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See Prefatory Note. 








The present volume mainly consists of articles contributed 
to periodicals, and other papers separately printed, since the 
pubhcation of my ' Political Studies,' in 1879. It contains, 
however, four articles on educational subjects of an earlier 
date, and three Lectures on ' The Place of Oxford University 
in EngUsh History,' delivered at the Eoyal Institution on 
April 15, 22, and 29, 1890, but hitherto unpublished. I have 
added a very few published letters ; three Election Addresses 
issued in 1868, 1874, and 1880, respectively; and a little 
selection of Speeches, imperfectly reported, yet retaining sufiS- 
cient trace of preparation to claim a place among ' Literary 

These scattered materials have been roughly grouped under 
the following heads : 

I. Education (1866-79). 
II. English and Irish Land Systems (1881-2). 
III. Economical Politics (1884-6). 
IV. Irish PoUcy (1886-8). 
V. Historical Subjects (1856-90). 
VI. Election Addresses (1868-80). 
VII. Speeches and Letters, Political and Occasional 

In some of my Essays and Speeches, especially those on 
the Irish Question, I have freely borrowed arguments, and 
even jmssages, from other compositions of my own. Several 


instances of such repetition will be found in the present 
volume ; for I have not thought it well to sacrifice literary 
unity or symmetry by striking out these innocent plagiarisms. 
Nor have I revised any of the articles here collected, with a 
view to remedy defects of thought or style, preferring that 
each should be left, in its original form, to the judgment of 
friendly eyes. I could have wished to include among them a 
few specimens of my anonymous contributions to the daily 
press, between 1860 and 1873, which I have always regarded 
as the chief political and literary work of my life. But the 
honourable traditions of journalism, now too seldom observed, 
preclude me from identifying any ' leading-articles ' as my 
own ; and three-fourths of my productions will thus remain 
buried, with so many others of higher merit, in the catacombs 
reserved for old newspaper-files. 

These Literary Fragments are printed, not with the vain 
hope of rescuing them from the oblivion to which they are 
destined, but in the belief that a rapidly-narrowing circle of 
relations and friends may kindly accept them, as a simple 
memento of their author. They are not published, because 
I have no wish to challenge public criticism, and because no 
miscellaneous assortment of ' Eemains ' can win public favour, 
unless recommended by the intrinsic value of its contents, by 
the arts of skilful advertisement, or by the attraction of a 
popular name. 

Ainil, 1891. 


I. EDUCATION (1866-79) 

University Tests 

The Universities and the Nation 

The Influence of the Older English UNivERSiTiEg on National 


Address on Education 


The Last Chapter of Irish History 

The Land Systems op England and of Ireland . 

The Irish Land Act op 1881 : Its Oriqin and its Consequences 

The Claim of Tenant-right for British Farmers 

State and Prospects of British Agriculture in 1882 


The Progress of Democracy in England .... 

Democracy and Socialism 

SociALisTio Tendencies op Modern Democraci 

IV. IRISH POLICY (1886-8) 

Home Rule and Justice to Ireland 

The Government of Ireland under the Union 

The 'Classes' and the 'Masses' 

Plain Facts about Ireland 









The Age of Alexander the Great 287 

Count Cavoub 307 

The Evangelical Revival of the Eighteenth Century . .317 

Oxford tn the Middle Ages 333 

The Place of Oxford University in English History. (In 

three parts) 362 




ADDnESB AT Woodstock, 1868 ^H 

Addkess at Woodstock, 1874 416 

Address in Monmoothshieb, 1880 420 

Letter on Dr. Puse^ and Pbofessor Jowett . . . . 425 
Speech in the Town Hall, Woodstock, October 8, 1868 . 429 

Letter to the Bev. G. J. B *3" 

Speech on the Hustings at Woodstock, Nov. 16, 1868 . . 446 
Speech in the Town Hall, Woodstock, Jan. 28, 1874 . . 452 

^-Speech at Sodthsea, March 7, 1877 462 

Address at Guildford on Imperiausm and Liberal Policy, 

Dec. 28, 1878 476 

Speech at Oxford on Household Suffrage in Counties, May 

31, 1884 493 

Address at Oxford on the Duty of Moderate Liberals at thi 

Coming Election, Nov. 19, 1885 500 

Speech from the Chair at Woodstock, Feb. 3, 1886 . . 517 
Speech at Oxford on the Jubilee, Feb. 26, 1887 . . . 624 
Speech at Bath on ' The Real Meaning of " Home Rule " and 

" Coercion," ' Nov. 4, 1887 529 

Speech at an Oxford Dinner on ' The Liberal Unionist 

Cause,' Jan. 25, 1888 634 

Letter on ' Ireland a Nation,' April 14, 1888 . . . 538 

Letter on ' The Treatment of Political Prisoners,' Sept. 28, 

1888 •  . . 540 

Address at Oxford on ' Unionism the Basis of a National 

Party,' Deo. 1, 1888 544 

Speech from the Chair at the Liberal Union Club, London, 

May 8, 1889 551 

Speech at an Oxford Dinner on ' The Unionist Cause,' Nov. 

19, 1889 555 

Speech from the Chair, introducing the Right. Hon. Joseph 

Chamberlain to a Meeting in the Oxford Corn Exchange, 

May 7, 1890 559 

Speech on ' Literature ' at a Geographical Dinner to Mr. 

H. M. Stanley, July 3, 1890 562 

Speech at an Oxford Dinner on ' The Bishop and Clergy of 

THE Diocese,' Oct. 15, 1890 564 

Address at the Oxford High School, Nov. 26, 1890 . . 567 





The subject of University Tests is essentially and intimately 
connected with the still larger subject of University Extension 
— a subject which is gradually assuming the proportions of a 
national question. Upon this ground alone it would merit 
the special attention of this Association, but it is not upon 
this ground alone that I have ventured to introduce it. For 
several years past, the anomalous nature of the subscriptions 
required at our two older Universities upon admission to their 
higher degrees or to their governing bodies, to many Acade- 
mical offices, and to College Fellowships, has been recognised 
by the public and by the Legislature. Bills designed to 
remedy one or other of these anomalies were submitted to 
the House of Commons, with more or less success, in the two 
last Sessions. There is reason to believe that Bills will be 
again brought forward with the same object during the 
Session of this year. The discussion of to-night, therefore, 
possesses an interest more than speculative, and may possibly 
have a practical influence on future legislation. 

Here follows a full description of the University and College 
Tests then in force at Oxford and Cambridge respectively, all of 
which have since been abolished. 

Such, then, is the measure of the Academical privileges 
and College emoluments conceded to Dissenters at Oxford 
and Cambridge respectively. At the former, the University 
Statutes, unrepealed by the Act of 1854, preclude their 

' A paper read to a meeting of the Social Science Association on January 
26, 1866. 

B 2 


obtaining an M.A. degree or taking any part in the government 
of the University ; at the latter, they may, indeed, take the 
M.A. degree, but they cannot, without making a declaration 
of bond fide Church Membership, belong to the governing 
body. At both, they are disqualified for becoming candidates 
for College Fellowships, unless willing to make the declaration 
of conformity, after which (at Oxford, at least) they must, in 
most instances, proceed to the M.A. degree, and then sign 
the Thirty-nine Articles on pain of forfeiting their Fellowship. 
To remove these two kinds of disability, two measures 
have been proposed, the one applying to Oxford only, the 
other to both Universities. By the Oxford Tests Bill, intro- 
duced by Mr. Dodson in 1864, and again by Mr. Goschen in 
1865, it was proposed to throw open the M.A. degree, with 
the vote in Convocation attached to it, to all persons, irre- 
spective of their religious faith. Inasmuch, however, as such 
an enactment, unless qualified, would have incidentally thrown 
open all offices, both Academical and extra-Academical, for 
which that degree may be the only theological qualification — 
a proviso was appended to it, obliging those who should be 
appointed to such offices to sign, not the Articles, but a 
declaration of bond fide Church Membership. The policy of 
this proviso was much questioned at the time, on the ground 
that it involved the enactment of a new, though, as many 
thought, a less burdensome test, and gratuitously limited the 
operation of a great principle. It was retained, however, and 
the Bill having been lost by two votes only in 1864, was 
carried by a considerable majority on the second reading in 
1865. It was afterwards withdrawn by the mover, on finding 
tliat it could not pass into law before the dissolution of Parlia- 
ment. The other Bill, simply repealing so much of the Act 
of Uniformity as relates to College Fellowships and Tutor- 
ships, was introduced in 1864 by Mr. Bouverie, and has met 
with a similar fate. Both originated in petitions signed by 
some of the most eminent members of the two Universities, 
resident as well as non-resident, and received the hearty 
support of the Nonconformist body. 


The limits of this paper do not permit me to discuss that 
which is, to many, the most interesting aspect of the Tests 
question. Whether it be consistent with the progress of theo- 
logical science, that dogmatic formularies, drawn up at the 
Reformation in terms which bear the stamp of a compromise, 
should be imposed upon any Churchman in our own genera- 
tion ; whether, even if imposed on the clergy, they need also 
be imposed on the laity ; whether it can be right or reason- 
able to make freedom of inquiry equally impossible for or- 
dained clergymen and for persons who contemplate taking 
orders ; whether the effect of subscription upon young men 
entering or leaving the University be to secure the purity of 
their faith, or to weaken their sense of moral obligation ; 
whether, in short, these tests be at once futile in restraining 
thought, and mischievous in blunting conscience, within our 
own Church — I shall here forbear to consider. It is with 
their operation in excluding from the University those who 
are outside the Church that I have now to deal. 

From this point of view, the principle of the Oxford 
Tests Bill — in other words, the principle of a free University — 
seems to rest on deep and firm grounds of justice and ex- 
pediency. Historically, our Universities are national, and not 
Anglican, institutions ; legally, they are lay, and not spiritual, 
corporations. These propositions are not only laid down in 
our text-books of law, they are not only confirmed by the fact 
that both Universities were founded long before the Church 
of England had any existence, and that at both the lay 
members have long outnumbered the clerical members, but 
they constitute the only valid justification for the unique 
privileges of tliese two educational bodies. The very idea of 
an University, m the present day, supersedes and excludes 
that of a clerical Semmary, and even that of an Academy 
open to students of all religious communions, but reserving 
its highest degrees, its tutorships, and its professorships for 
one communion only. Such an idea may, indeed, have been 
natural in that age when the University, like the State itself, 
recognised the moral supremacy of the Church, when the 


Church was Catholic in reality as well as in name, when 
the clergy enjoyed a monopoly of learning, and when secular 
knowledge was the handmaid of theology. It might he 
plausibly entertained in the age of Leicester or the age of 
Laud, when statesmen as well as ecclesiastics still indulged in 
the hope of making the Church of England coextensive with 
the English people. Those ages have passed away, never to 
return, and with them the only presumptive reasons in favour 
of such a connection between the Church and the University 
as would justify the refusal of lay-degrees to Dissenters. 
That refusal has already been condemned by the Legislature, 
so far as regards the bachelor's degree in the four lay-faculties, 
and at Cambridge even the M. A. degree has been thrown 
open, though without the rights belonging to it. In short, 
the presumption is now entirely in favour of educational 
liberty at the Universities, and it remains to examine the 
arguments, of very unequal weight, that have been urged to 
rebut this presumption. 

It is said, in the first place, that although our Universities 
are national institutions, they are national only in the same 
sense in which the Church is national, and not in that of 
being properly accessible to all, without distinction of creed. 
This objection refutes itself, the truth being that our Church, 
though not such as Laud would have had it, is far more com- 
prehensive and less exacting than our Universities. Granting 
that a State Church is for the public good, and that our own 
is the most potent engine of enlightenment in this country, 
it does, in theory, embrace all without exception, and it does, 
in fact, tender all its ministrations and ordinances to the 
laity without requiring any test of orthodoxy whatever. So 
long as there is a national Church, a national University 
ought, at least, to be coextensive with it, welcoming every 
subject of the realm who is willing to come, and admitting 
him, as of right, to its privileges. This is exactly what the 
University of Oxford, thanks to the profligate nobleman who, 
as Chancellor, introduced subscription to the Articles, has 
hitherto failed to do. ' It certainly is singular,' as the Oxford 


Commissioners remark, ' that a lay corporation should require 
from laymen, simply as a condition of membership, that 
■which the Church of England does not require for participa- 
tion in its most sacred ordinance.' It is surely more singular 
still that, after the clergy themselves have been relieved of 
subscription to the three Articles of the Thirty-sixth Canon, 
and the ratification thereof, containing the preposterous 
assertion that Queen Elizabeth was Queen of France, a lay 
member of Oxford should still be compelled to sign them on 
taking his M.A. degree. 

But other and more practical objections are entertained 
by many who freely acknowledge the educational claims of 
Dissenters, and the absolute right of Parliament to deal with 
the constitution and endowments of Oxford and Cambridge, 
as it did, in effect, at the Reformation. They allege that, 
whether these two Universities be the property of the Church 
or the property of the nation, it is for the public interest to 
maintain in its integrity their peculiar connection with the 
national Church. This connection they consider to be the 
sole guarantee for definite religious teaching, and the one safe- 
guard against a purely secular system of education. Hence, 
while they are prepared to admit Dissenters as students, 
they shrink from giving them any share of governing 
power, if not from allowing them to obtain those higher 
degrees which are the symbol of complete academical citizen- 
ship. They would, therefore, prefer the endowment, however 
costly, of new Dissenting Universities, to the admission of 
Dissenters on equal terms at Oxford and Cambridge. Some 
who thus think deny the existence of any considerable demand 
for University education, as it is there understood, among 
the leading bodies of Dissenters. Others apprehend an over- 
whelming influx of persons hostile to the Church. Both, 
however, agree that, if Dissenters should once gain a footing 
in the Oxford Convocation or the Cambridge Senate — still 
more, if they should become fellows or tutors of colleges — the 
cause of ' religion and learning ' would be seriously preju- 
diced. Eather than risk such a consequence they would 


retain subscriptions •which they know and admit to press 
heavily on the consciences of some good Churchmen, and 
Hghtly enough on the consciences of some who have ceased 
to beheve in Christianity. 

This class of objections owes its force, in a great degree, 
to a confusion between the idea of a free University and the 
idea of free Colleges. Now, the University might be perfectly 
free to members of all denominations, or of no denomination, 
and yet might contain within itself any number of denomi- 
national Colleges. Were all University tests abolished, except 
for theological degrees, and the privilege of opening private 
halls or founding Colleges granted to Churchmen and Dis- 
senters alike, it is not only possible, but highly probable, that 
each religious body would have an establishment of its own. 
Those Wesleyan or Baptist parents who might object to their 
children being educated by tutors, and mixing with com- 
panions, of a different communion, would naturally prefer a 
Wealeyan or Baptist Hall to a College imbued with Anglican 
traditions, or to a lodging-house under no spiritual or moral 
supermtendence. The prevalence of the latter system, how- 
ever, at Edinburgh and Glasgow — not to speak of the London 
or the Continental Universities — proves at least that, in the 
opinion of a highly scrupulous people, it is not so perilous to 
the morality of students as its English opponents represent. 
But this is not the present question. The question is whether 
any just rights of the Church of England, or the interests of 
religion, are endangered by offering the full benefit of educa- 
tion at Oxford and Cambridge, without any vexatious or 
humiliating reserve, to all who may choose to avail themselves 
of it. The answer is self-evident. The Church has no more 
right, as we have seen, to a monopoly of the Universities 
than she has to a monopoly of Parliament. Her great su- 
periority in wealth and learning will secure to her, so long, as 
it lasts, a legitimate ascendancy in both, and her best friends 
■will ask no more. No one acquainted with Oxford or Cam- 
bridge society can seriously believe that young men frequent- 
ing the same professors' lectures, but not even residing in the 


same College, would devote themselves to proselytising each 
other. Such a danger, however, were it real, must inevitably 
redound to the advantage of the Church, which for many 
years to come must be far more than a match for Dissent in 
an arena long occupied by herself, and possesses an exclusive 
command of the faculty of theology and the University pulpit. 
But the danger is wholly unreal, and there is really something 
aljsurd in an University which puts the works of Grote and 
Mill into the hands of young Churchmen trembling at the 
prospect of their coming into contact with the followers of 
Wesley or Eobert Hall. It is far more likely that an infusion 
of Dissenting undergraduates would tend to subordinate theo- 
logical disputes to the great work of education. It is pre- 
cisely because Oxford is so thoroughly clerical that questions 
which belong specially to the province of divines have there 
become topics of general discussion, propagating the odium 
theolofjinim among future lawyers, scholars, and men of 
science, and clouding with the darkness of scepticism the 
minds of youths still fresh from school. Most true it is, as 
Mr. Goschen pointed out in his masterly speech on the Oxford 
Tests Bill, that free inquiry and the pursuit of truth are no 
less the functions of an University than mere instruction. 
That inquiry, however, should at least be spontaneous. It 
is most profitably carried on by mature intellects, and espe- 
cially by those who, filling professorial chairs, are entrusted 
with the duty of guiding the progress of thought in the 
various branches of knowledge which they represent. It is 
the same predominance of the clerical element, acting at once 
in two opposite directions, which dwarfs the learning of our 
professors, and stimulates into morbid activity the speculative 
tendencies of our students. 

The admission of Dissenters to existing Colleges involves, 
it must be confessed, greater difficulties ; and these difficulties 
are not ignored by those who, nevertheless, desire to remove 
restrictions imposed by the Act of Uniformity upon the tenure 
of College Fellowships. The fear of secularising University 
education is almost unmeaning, for, with the exception of a 


few simple questions on Scripture and the Articles, an Oxford 
education, as represented by the University examinations, ia 
already purely secular. Colleges, on the other hand, do 
profess, by means of divinity-lectures, chapel-services, and 
the personal intercourse of tutors with pupils, to give a 
religious character to education. It would be possible to 
exaggerate the effect of such influences, but it would also be 
possible to depreciate it unduly, and it may well be conceded 
that if the Nonconformists could not be admitted to collegiate 
emoluments without banishing religion from the College 
system, it would be a very strong argument against admitting 
them. Happily, no such dilemma is presented to us. The 
principle of Mr. Bouverie's Bill is, as it ought to be, per- 
missive. It would not compel the governing body of a College 
to elect a Dissenter as Fellow, but would only enable them to 
do so, if they thought it for the interest of the foundation as 
a place of religion and learning. To suppose that a Dissenter, 
being elected, would endeavour to substitute the form of 
worship to which he had been accustomed for that of the 
Church of England, or to propagate heterodox views among 
the undergraduates, is to suppose that which is contrary to 
all experience. It is, indeed, notorious that differences of 
religious opinion prevail within the pale of the Church, com- 
pared to which those which divide Churchmen from the great 
majority of Dissenters are as nothing. Scotch Presbyterians 
have already found their way into Oxford common-rooms, 
without disturbing their harmony or plotting treason against 
the doctrine and ritual of the Church. The truth is, that a 
high and liberal education, such as can alone enable a man 
to compete with success for an open Fellowship, is all but a 
sovereign antidote against sectarian prejudices. There is not 
a more enlightened and conscientious body of men than the 
younger tutors of Colleges at both Universities, nor would 
they be less enlightened and conscientious if they represented 
the elite of English graduates instead of representing only the 
elite of Anglican graduates. Such men know the difference 
between dogmatic theology and practical religion. They can 



and do agree to differ upon many points of opinion, but they 
do not hold the creed of secularism, and may well be trusted 
to make such arrangements for religious teaching and public 
worship as would be satisfactory to the parents of their pupils. 
Not that religious influences can only be exercised by tutors. 
At this very moment the most powerful religious influences 
at Oxford are neither University influences, nor yet College 
influences ; they are the influences of earnest men, belonging 
to various schools of theology, and owing their authority en- 
tirely to their own personal qualities. 

Hitherto we have proceeded on the assumption that a real 
and considerable dema.nd for University education, as it is 
understood at Oxford and Cambridge, does exist among the 
Nonconformists of England. But is this assumption true ? 
Is it not the fact that social as well as theological barriers 
divide the great mass of Dissenters from Churchmen ? Would 
not the unprofessional character of Oxford studies, and the 
age to which they are prolonged, as well as the strict con- 
ditions of residence, deter many, even of the wealthier Dis- 
senters, from sending their sons thither ? Does not the 
formidable rivah-y of ' business ' deprive more young men, 
especially in Lancashire, of an University education, than 
any impatience of religious tests? Does not the expense, 
or supposed expense, of such an education, keep away still 
more, whose parents might otherwise get over their religious 
scruples ? Have not the more superficial of these scruples 
reference to the Anglican tone of Oxford and Cambridge 
rather than to any practical disabilities of Dissenters, and 
is not the aversion to this tone nearly connected with an 
aversion to the aristocratic prestige and mediaeval associations 
of these ancient seats of learning ? Have not the deeper of 
them reference, not to the dominant Anglicanism of either 
University, but to the sceptical spirit which is known to be 
abroad in them, and especially in Oxford ? Do not many 
of the most religious and respectable Dissenters look upon 
Oxford with horror, not only as a nursery of vice and extrava- 
gance, but as a hotbed of infidelity ? Do not some even of 


the more liberal Dissenters, and most of the Roman Catholics, 
di-ead the idea of unsectarian education, as if it involved that 
of exclusively secular, or still worse of irreligious education ? 
Do not persons of this class, like the hierarchy of Eome, 
esteem independence of thought a more deadly enemy than 
dogmatic heresy, and tremble to send forth their children, 
as lambs among wolves, into the wilderness of Oxford philo- 
sophy ? 

Let all these questions be answered in the affirmative, 
yet the duty and policy of abandoning the tests in question 
remain the same as before. Oxford and Cambridge are no 
longer what they were, however unlike what they might and 
will be. Side by side with the movement for the aboUtion 
of tests is a movement of which the object is to make the 
Universities national in every sense of the term. Much has 
already been done at Oxford, and much more is likely to be 
done, in this direction. As Oxford education becomes, as it 
does every day, less scholastic and more truly liberal, it must 
be and is more and more highly prized by those commercial 
classes to whom England was but lately a country without 
Universities. There are no classes who more specially need, 
did they but know it, that moral and intellectual discipUne 
which Oxford can supply, for it is these which command the 
great centres of population, and are themselves the great 
employers of industry. There may be other obstacles and 
prejudices which repel them, but the existence of tests is 
assuredly a chief stumbling-block. Tests are to them a badge 
of Anglican ascendancy, an indication that Oxford postpones 
the interests of education to the interests of the Church — the 
Church of the aristocracy and the idle classes. Break down 
this barrier of suspicion by an unreserved invitation to share 
the benefits of the University — remove the source of this 
mistrust and prejudice by a signal public act of concihation — 
enable the Universities to come forward and undertake the 
guidance of national education — and the Dissenters of the 
money-making classes will, for the first time, have the choice 
fairly presented to them between an early apprenticeship to 


commercial pursuits and that higher culture which Oxford 
professes to give. Their present indifference to this culture 
is not wholly unreasonable. Looking at Oxford from outside, 
they see that she is not, in the same sense or degree with 
the German Universities, the centre of intellectual life to the 
mind of the nation. The great luminaries of modern science, 
the gi'eat inventors and engineers whose names are known 
throughout the civilised world, the most original philosophers, 
are not, for the most part. University men. With some 
brilliant exceptions, our University professors do not enjoy an 
European, or even a national, reputation, nor are there many 
persons at either University devoting their lives to the prose- 
cution of any one study. The wealthier and more intelligent 
Dissenters perceive all this, and observe too, that, at Oxford, 
the sincere friends of education are constantly outvoted, even 
on educational questions, by a majority who do not conceal 
their hostility to whatever favours intellectual progress. Fail- 
ing to see the amount and quality of the educational work 
done, in spite of all this, and not appreciating the subtler 
influences brought to bear in such a society on the least 
worthy of its members, they draw the erroneous, but not 
groundless, inference that Oxford is not in earnest about 
education, but is thoroughly in earnest about the interests of 
theological parties within the State Church. 

If this be so, and if our two ancient Universities be worth 
maintaining as national institutions, it is surely an object of 
statesmanship to encourage the popular demand for University 
education, and to place University education under the 
searching eye of public opinion. By this single measure 
both these objects will be promoted, to the benefit, as I have 
striven to show, of the nation at large and of the Church 
herself. It is not, indeed, probable, nor is it desirable, that 
hereditary antipathies and conscientious objections on the 
part of Dissenting parents should be overcome at once. It is 
far better that a change involving so much should be wrought 
out by an extremely gradual process, and that our own 
generation should not anticipate the problems reserved for 


its successor. For years to come, were the Universities and 
the Colleges ever so free to them, Dissenters must form a 
very small minority in either. Should they hereafter become 
more numerous and influential than we can at present ven- 
ture to anticipate, it will be a proof — not that they ought 
never to have been admitted, but rather that a larger class 
than we now suppose has been hitherto excluded by Tests 
from all that is implied in University education ; an educa- 
tion, with all its faults, the highest in this country, and 
capable of a development to which no limit can be assigned. 

For our Universities, let us remember, have a mission of 
their own, and it is a mission as sacred and as responsible as 
any that can be confided by society to an independent body. 
To form directly the mental habits of the governing class, 
to regulate indirectly the educational standard throughout 
England, to preside with authority over the advancement of 
learning, to assign their relative value to different sciences, 
exalting some to honour and consigning others to neglect, 
to correct by a sound philosophy the intellectual vices of an 
utilitarian age, to bear an undying witness to the supreme 
value of truth — these are amongst the higher functions which 
legitimately belong to our Universities, yet cannot be perfectly 
discharged, till the last vestige of ecclesiastical monopoly has 
disappeared from their constitution. 




Contemporary Eevibw, June 1875 

The Report of the late Universities Commission, though 
pubHshed last autumn, has attracted less attention than 
it deserves, and the vague assurances given by the Prime 
Minister, at the opening of the Session, have not as yet been 
redeemed by any Parliamentary action. No such action, 
indeed, could be desired in the interest of the Universities or 
the Nation, unless preceded by a free discussion on the ques- 
tion of Academical Endowments. Yet no such discussion can 
be conducted intelligently or profitably without an adequate 
consideration of facts equally beyond the scope of the Com- 
missioners' inquiry and the cognisance of the general public. 
So limited is the range of political memory in these days, 
that of the few who have scrutinised the gross totals of 
University and College revenues, now ascertained for the 
first time, not one in ten has studied, or would care to study, 
the far more comprehensive Eeports of the Commissions 
issued by Lord J. Russell's Government in 1850. Neverthe- 
less, some knowledge of the results then obtained, and of the 
changes since effected at Oxford and Cambridge, is absolutely 
necessary in defining the course of future legislation. Before 
proceeding to regulate the distribution of Academical Endow- 
ments, the country ought to realise distinctly the extent to 
which the Universities at present discharge their responsi- 
bilities to learning and education, as well as the advances 
which they have made during the last twenty-five years. It 
is one thing to force reforms on reactionary, obstructive, 
and self-seeking corporations ; it is another thing to aid the 


spontaneous efforts of corporations on the whole liberal, 
public-spirited, and progressive. If it should appear that few, 
if any, public institutions in England can exhibit so good an 
account of their stewardship as the Universities and Colleges 
of Oxford and Cambridge, it will assuredly be no reason for 
withholding any measures which may enable them to realise 
a still higher ideal of efficiency ; but it will be an excellent 
reason for not dissipating, in the attempt to utilise, resources 
already so well employed. 

In comparing the present with the past application of 
Academical Endowments, it will be convenient to fix our 
attention specially on one University — that is, upon Oxford. 
So far as concerns the main features of their internal economy, 
what is true of Oxford is, for the most part, true of Cambridge, 
and little would be gained by dwelling on minute differences 
of system, which have no bearing on the relation between 
the Universities and the Nation. There are, however, certain 
broad distinctions between Oxford and Cambridge, which it 
may be well for the non-academical reader to bear in mind. 
Both are essentially collegiate Universities, since the constitu- 
tion of both alike secures valuable privileges to Colleges, 
since the vast majority of their students continue to be 
members of Colleges, and since the aggregate revenues of 
Colleges are in either case nearly tenfold greater than the 
revenues of the University itself. Still, the predominance of 
collegiate influence and the collegiate spirit has always been 
greater and more exclusive at Cambridge, owing to a variety 
of causes, the most obvious of which is the great superiority 
of Trinity and St. John's, both in numbers and in prestige, 
over the smaller Colleges. On the other hand, the dispropor- 
tionate encouragement so long given to mathematical attain- 
ments at Cambridge, and the unique importance traditionally 
attached by its College authorities to the results of the final 
University examination, have not failed to affect the character 
of Cambridge as a place of national education. Mathematics 
are not cultivated at the great public schools with as much 
zeal or success as classical literature and other cognate studies, 


which are more liberally rewarded at Oxford. The conse- 
quence is, that it is no rare occurrence at Cambridge for the 
first i^lfice in the Mathematical Tripos, carrying with it the 
certainty of a College Fellowship, to be won by a young man 
of humble birth from a cheap grammar school in the north 
of England, who never even held a scholarship or exhibition 
till he reached the University. At Oxford, on the contrary, 
though competition is equally free, and though almost every 
College throws open its Scholarships and Fellowships to 
members of other Colleges, fewer young men of this class 
practically succeed in obtaining the highest honours and 
prizes. Such diversities as these, it is true, are too slight to 
impair the marked family likeness which distinguishes Oxford 
and Cambridge from Scotch and Continental Universities, 
but they may help to explain some divergent tendencies, 
which might, otherwise, be somewhat perplexing. 

When the Oxford University Commission of 1850 was 
appointed, the University and Colleges were governed respec- 
tively by antiquated codes of statutes, which it would have 
been no less disastrous than impossible to enforce, but which, 
in the opinion of eminent authorities, they had no power to 
alter. Their practical management, as it existed but five- 
and-twenty years ago, would hardly be credited by reformers 
of a younger generation. The sole initiative power in Uni- 
versity legislation, and by far the largest share of University 
administration, was vested in the Hebdomadal Board, con- 
sisting solely of Heads of Colleges with the two Proctors, and 
well described by Mr. Gold win Smith as ' an organised torpor.' 
There was an assembly of residents, known as the House of 
Congregation, but its business had dwindled to mere formali- 
ties, such as receiving propositions which it was not permitted 
to discuss, conferring degi'ees in the name of the University, 
and granting dispensations, as a matter of course. The 
University Convocation included, as now, all full (or ' Regent ') 
Masters of Arts, and had the right of debating, but this right 
was virtually annulled by the necessity of speaking in Latin, 
and Convocation could only accept or reject without amend- 



ment measures proposed by the Hebdomadal Board. At this 
period, no student could be a member of the University with- 
out belonging to a College, while every member of a College 
was compelled to sleep within its walls, until after his third 
year of residence, instead of being allowed, as at Cambridge, 
to live in lodgings. Persons unable to sign the Thirty-nine 
Articles were absolutely excluded, not merely from degrees, 
but from all access to the University, inasmuch as the test of 
subscription was enforced at matriculation. It is needless to 
add that, being unable to enter the University, they could 
not obtain College Fellowships, which, however, were further 
protected against the intrusion of Dissenters by the declara- 
tion of Churchmanship required to be made under the Act of 
Uniformity. If Professorial lectures were not at so low an 
ebb as in the days of Gibbon, when the greater part of the 
Professors had ' given up even the pretence of teaching,' they 
were lamentably scarce and ineffective. The educational 
function of the University had, in fact, been almost wholly 
merged in College tuition, but the Scholarships, as well as 
the Fellowships, of the Colleges were fettered by all manner 
of restrictions, which marred their value as incentives to 
industry. Some were confined to natives of particular 
counties, others were attached to particular schools, in some 
cases ' Founder's Kin ' had a statutable preference, and, in 
too many, favouritism was checked by no rule of law or prac- 
tice. The great majority of Fellows were bound to take Holy 
Orders, and the whole University was dominated by a clerical 
spirit which directly tended to make it, as it has so long been, 
a focus of theological controversy. 

It is to be regi'etted that many of the wise and liberal 
alterations recommended by the Commission of 1850 were 
not at once adopted by the Legislature. No steps, for 
instance, were taken for abolishing the invidious privileges 
of Noblemen and Gentlemen Commoners, students were not 
relieved from the obligation of belonging to a College and 
residing within its walls, no University matriculation-exam- 
ination was established, no order of sub-professors or lecturers 



vas instituted, the Long Vacation continued unreformed and 
the University examinations continued to be conducted in 
Term-time, clerical Fellowships were maintained, though on 
a reduced scale, and the practice of applying College funds to 
the purchase of advowsons for the clerical Fellows was not 
suppressed. On the other hand, no one who knows what 
Oxford was in 1850 can doubt that by the Oxford Eeform 
Act of 1854, and the College Ordinances framed by the 
Executive Commission under its provisions, a profound and 
most beneficial change was wrought in the whole sj^irit and 
working of the University system. The Hebdomadal Board 
was replaced by a representative Council, and Congregation 
was remodelled into a vigorous deliberative assembly, with 
the right of speaking in English. The monopoly of Colleges 
was broken down, and an opening made for ulterior exten- 
sion, by the revival of Private Halls. The Professoriate was 
considerably increased, reorganised, and re-endowed, by means 
of contributions from Colleges. The Colleges were emanci- 
pated from their mediaeval statutes, were invested with new 
constitutions, and acquired new legislative powers. The 
Fellowships were almost universally thrown open to merit, 
and the effect of this revolution was not merely to create 
ample rewards for the highest academical attainments, but 
to place the governing power within Colleges m the hands 
of able men Ukely to promote further improvements. The 
number and value of Scholarships were largely augmented, 
and many, though not all, of the restrictions upon them were 
abolished. The great mass of vexatious and obsolete Oaths 
was swept away, and, though candidates for the M.A. degree 
and persons elected to Fellowships were still required to make 
the old subscriptions and declarations, it was enacted that no 
religious test should be imposed at matriculation, or on taking 
a Bachelor's degree. The University itself had anticipated 
the results of the Commission by liberal changes in its curri- 
culum and examinations, of which the most important was 
the assignment of independent ' schools ' to Law and Modern 
History and to Natural Science respectively, simultaneously 

c 2 


with the foundation of a new Museum. The permanence of 
these changes was, however, additionally secured by the 
clause introduced into the College Ordinances, whereby it 
was directed that Fellowships should be appropriated from 
time to time for the encouragement of all the studies recog- 
nised by the University. 

Here followed a description of the educational progress made by 
the University of Oxford between 1850 and 1874, the institution of 
Local Examinations, the organisation of Academical Lectures in 
provincial towns, and the Examination of Public Schools by a 
Joint-Board representing Oxford and Cambridge. 

In considering the services rendered by the Universities 
to the Nation since they recovered their liberty of action, it 
is impossible to pass over the abolition of University Tests. 
This great reform was notoriously brought about, not so much 
by the pressure of external opinion, either popular or ParHa- 
mentary, as by the persistent and disinterested agitation 
carried on by reformers, mostly Fellows of Colleges, within 
the Universities themselves. In the year 1862, a petition 
was presented from seventy-four resident Fellows of Colleges 
at Cambridge, praying for the repeal of the clause applicable 
to Fellowships in the Act of Uniformity. In the year 1863, 
a petition was presented from 106 Heads, Professors, Fellows 
and ex-Fellows, and College Tutors at Oxford, praying for the 
removal of theological restrictions on degrees. In the year 
1868, a petition against all religious tests, except for degi'ees 
in theology, was signed by eighty Heads, Professors, Lecturers, 
and resident Fellows at Oxford, while a similar petition was 
signed by 123 non-resident Fellows and ex-Fellows. In the 
same year, a petition to the same effect was signed by 227 
Heads and present or former Office-holders and Fellows of 
Cambridge. Separate petitions, specially directed against 
the declaration of Conformity, were signed by thirty-two out 
of sixty Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, and by the 
Master and all the Fellows, except one, of Christ's College, 
Cambridge. Assuredly these efforts were ably supported by 
he Liberal party in Parliament, and by the Nonconformist 


body in the country ; but the motive power which ultimately 
proved irresistible came from within, and not from without, 
the Universities. It was Fellows of Colleges, who resolutely 
insisted on vindicating the national character of the Univer- 
sities, and not the nation at large which forced upon them an 
unwelcome obligation. 

The University Tests Abolition Act was carried in 1871, 
and in the following October Mr. Gladstone addressed a letter 
to the Vice-Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge, asking 
whether the Government could rely on the co-operation of 
the Universities and Colleges, in the event of a Eoyal Com- 
mission being appointed to inquire into academical property 
and revenues. The reply was favourable, and the Commis- 
sion was issued in January, 1872. Its functions were strictly 
limited to investigation, and to matters of finance, no power 
being entrusted to it either of passing judgment on the pre- 
sent application of University and College endowments, or of 
suggesting a redistribution of them — much less of entering 
on general questions of University reform. Many such ques- 
tions had inevitably arisen at both Universities in the period 
of rapid growth succeeding the Acts of 1854 and 1856. At 
Oxford, the anomalies chiefly felt were the defective constitu- 
tion of Congregation, whereby the Professors and working 
Tutors were liable to be swamped by a mixed multitude of 
chaplains and other resident Masters, the want of lai-ger 
resources for Professorial teaching as well as for the mainte- 
nance of University establishments, the reservation of nearly 
half the Fellowships to persons in or about to enter Holy 
Orders, and the rule of tenure under which the most useless 
Fellow of a College may retain his position for life by virtue 
of cehbacy, while the most useful must resign it on marriage, 
even though engaged in College tuition. At Cambridge this 
last grievance was further aggravated in several Colleges, by 
the preposterous condition that every Fellow must take orders 
within a certain term of years, or forfeit his Fellowship. 
Some of the disabilities which pressed most heavily on par- 
ticular Colleges had been partially removed by new statutes, 


■\;Vitli the sanction of the Privy Council, but the Privy Council 
became reasonably unwilling to legislate piecemeal, at the 
instance of fluctuating bodies of Fellows, and a demand for 
a supplementary Reform Act was gaining strength at both 
Universities, when Mr. Gladstone consented to appoint a 
purely financial Commission, as a preliminary step to further 
legislation. How far this was a politic act may perhaps be 
doubted, and it is certain that it would never have been 
taken, had it been foreseen that it would rest with a new 
Administration to propose or to resist a redistribution of 
Academical revenues. However, the statistical facts have 
now been placed before the public, in a somewhat misleading 
form it may be, but still with a completeness never before 
attained. It is these facts which it now remains for us to 
examine and to interpret. 

Here followed an analysis of University and College revenues, 
gross and net, as ascertained by the Commissioners' Eeport, of the 
preliminary outgoings, and expenditure under trust deeds, and of 
the application of the residue in payments to Heads of Colleges, 
College Oificers, and Scholars or Exhibitioners. 

We now approach that which has been denounced, in no 
measured language, as a ruinous waste of academical resources 
— the appropriation of some 205,000?. (including a very 
small contribution from trust-property) to College Fellow- 
ships. Here, if anywhere, we find a large fund on which 
Parliament may draw, if it thinks proper, for purposes of 
University reform or extension. We have seen how very 
little reduction can be effected elsewhere in University or 
College expenditure, and even if it were possible to realise a 
large surplus by trenchant economy, there would be para- 
mount claims upon it for the better endowment of existing 
Professorships, and the sustentation of existing institutions. 
It is upon the endowments now apphed to Fellowships that 
academical reformers of every class rely for the means of 
carrying out their various schemes ; and as the case is often 
argued upon a very imperfect knowledge of the essential facts, 
it may be well to state these in a succinct form. 


There are, in round numbers, 360 Fellowships at Oxford 
and somewhat more at Cambridge, so that, allowing for 
vacancies and temporary suspensions, we may probably take 
700 as the extreme number of existing Fellows, and 300Z. a 
year as the extreme average value of a Fellowship. The 
general mode of election, and conditions of tenure, are clearly 
explained in an able paper read before the last Social Science 
Congress by Mr. Charles Stuart Parker, formerly a Fellow 
and senior Tutor of University College, Oxford. ' According 
to the present practice, the new Fellows are elected by the 
existing Fellows of a College, after open competitive examina- 
tion, in Oxford conducted always by the College, with the aid 
of assessors, if necessary, in sjjecial subjects. In Cambridge 
the smaller Colleges elect upon the results of the University 
examinations. At Oxford a candidate is elected by any other 
College as freely as by his own ; at Cambridge he must be 
already a member of the College electing. With this excep- 
tion as regards Cambridge, the Fellows are supposed to be, 
and speaking broadly they are, the ablest and most distin- 
guished students, selected with great impartiality soon after 
taking their Bachelor's degree, in general before the age of 
twenty-five. Once elected, for the most part they have no 
special duties, but are bound in conscience to the best of their 
ability and judgment to promote the interests of their College 
and of their University as a i^lace of religion, learning, and 
education. Most Fellowships are tenable for life, being 
vacated only on marriage, or on obtaining a fixed income 
from other sources of 500Z. or 600Z. a year.' 

It appears, however, from a return furnished to a Com- 
mittee of the House of Lords in 1870, that half of all the 
Fellows at Cambridge, and nearly half of those at Oxford, 
were then in Holy Orders, or under the obligation of proceed- 
ing to Holy Orders, subject only, in three cases, to an excep- 
tion in favour of those holding College offices. A larger 
proportion of clerical than of lay Fellows reside in College 
and take part in tuition, because they have a more or less 
remote prospect of settling on a College living, and for the 


same reason the succession of clerical Fellows is somewhat 
more rapid. Mr. Parker calculates the average time for 
which Fellowships are held at about ten years, from which 
it follows that above thirty are filled up annually at each 

It is admitted on all hands that Fellowships are now 
awarded, with the rarest exceptions, upon the strictest con- 
siderations of academical merit ; and it may be confidently 
asserted that no other public appointments are less tainted 
— if, indeed, there be any so little tainted — with the suspicion 
of favouritism. Still, there is a vague impression abroad 
that many of them are carried off by young men of rich 
parentage, and that, instead of stimulating their possessors 
to further exertion, they are apt to deter them from embark- 
ing on active careers, and to encourage cultured indolence. 
These are impressions which can only be dispelled effectually 
by evidence of a kind which it is very difficult to jirocure. 
Some light, however, may be thrown upon the matter by the 
examination of a typical sample ; and a careful analysis of 
a body of forty-nine Fellows belonging to three Colleges, 
differing from each other in size and character, leads to 
results which are not devoid of interest. It appears that no 
less than sixteen of the whole number are sons of clergymen, 
and two of Dissenting ministers, eight of men engaged in 
trade or commercial business, five of solicitors, four of landed 
proprietors, four of yeomen and tenant farmers, three of 
employes in the Civil Service, two of medical men, one of a 
member of Parliament, one of a schoolmaster, one of a Scotch 
factor, one of a militai'y officer, and one of a clerk or ac- 
countant. In short, all but a trifling percentage are drawn 
from the hard-working professional class ; and it may be 
stated with some confidence that not one is in possession of 
or heir to a considerable fortune. A similar inquiry into the 
present occupation of the same forty-nine Fellows shows that 
seventeen are engaged in College tuition, five hold other 
College offices, three are University professors, two are pre- 
paring themselves for College tuition, two are masters of 


schools, two are parochial clergymen, four are barristers, four 
are engaged in literary work, one is a physician, and one a 
medical student, one is in the Civil Service, and one is an 
artist ; while of the six who have no regular occujjation, one 
is travelling for his health, and three at least are emeriti, 
having given their best years to the service of their Colleges 
and the University. 

These facts speak for themselves, and the inference which 
they suggest is, in the main, a true one. So far as can be 
ascertained, fully half the Fellows of Oxford Colleges are 
resident, and nearly all the resident Fellows are engaged in 
public or private tuition. Even of the non-resident Fellows, 
very few fail to attend College meetings, many perform useful 
work for their Colleges, and the vast majority are earnestly 
and honourably employed, being very often indebted to their 
Fellowships alone for the means of subsistence during the 
earlier stages of their professional careers. The class of 
promising graduates converted into dilettanti loungers by the 
enervating influence of Fellowships has scarcely any existence, 
except among the delusions of the non-academical mind. Not 
only so, but it is capable of proof that College Fellowships, 
instead of enervating those who obtain them, have produced 
a larger proportion of men eminent in Church and State than 
most of their defenders would venture to claim for them. 
In order to become satisfied of this, we have only to inspect 
the catalogue of Fellows elected during the present century 
at Oriel College, where open competition was first established 
at Oxford, and at Trinity College, which is not only the largest 
College at Cambridge, but virtually the only one which con- 
ducts an effective Fellowship examination. The hst of Oriel 
Fellows, dating from 1800 downwards, exhibits but ninety- 
two names ; yet a full third of these are the names of men 
who have made themselves known in the world, and among 
them are the names of Davison, Whately, Keble, Hampden, 
Thomas Arnold, Hartley Coleridge, J. H. Newman, Pusey, 
Bishop Fraser, and Matthew Arnold, besides others which 
may yet become famous. The list of Trinity Fellows for the 


same period, though four times as long, contains a smaller 
proportion of eminent names, like those of Sedgwick, Whewell, 
Thirhvall, Macaulay, and Airy, but is still richer in the names 
of men who have vindicated Fellowships against the reproach 
of enfeebling moral or intellectual vigour by rising to high 
stations in various practical callings. It would be easy to 
multiply similar arguments, as, for instance, by citing the 
present bench of English archbishops and bishops, twenty- 
two of whom were educated at Oxford or Cambridge, and 
fifteen of whom were Fellows of Colleges. If it were possible 
to lay before the public a list of Oxford and Cambridge 
Fellows who have attained leading positions in the great 
educational profession, in the Law, in the various Govern- 
ment offices, and even in the commercial world, little more 
would be heard of the notion that Fellowships quench ambi- 
tion, or bar the road to success ; and we might, perhaps, have 
to combat the counter-objection that Fello^^s of Colleges start 
with an unfair advantage in the race of life. 

But no plea for the utility of collegiate endowments would 
be complete without a reference to one example, at once the 
most illustrious in the history of science, and the most repre- 
sentative in the history of the Fellowship system. If ever 
there was a genuine product of that system, it was Sir Isaac 
Newton. His biographer tells us that on matriculating at 
Cambridge in his nineteenth year, as a subsizar of Trinity, 
he manifested no presage of future greatness, and his tran- 
scendent superiority to his University contemporaries was 
in'obably unknown even to himself. 

' No friendly counsel had regulated his youthful studies, 
and no work of a scientific character had guided him in his 
course. In yielding to the impulse of his mechanical genius, 
his mind obeyed the laws of its own natural expansion, and 
following in the line of least resistance, it was thus drawn 
aside from the precipitous paths which it was fitted to climb, 
and the unbarred strongholds which it was destined to ex« 
plore. When Newton, therefore, entered Trinity College, he 
brought with him a more slender portion of science than at 


his age falls to the lot of ordinary scholars. . . . Cambridge 
was consequently the real birthplace of Newton's genius — her 
institutions sustained his mightiest efforts, and within her 
precincts were all his discoveries made and perfected.' 

He was admitted to a Fellowship at the age of nearly 
twenty-five, an industrious but obscure mathematician, who 
must otherwise have sought a livelihood in some profession 
or trade. He resigned it at the age of fifty-nine, having 
ennobled his College, his University, and his country, by 
those immortal discoveries which, viewed across the interval 
of two centuries, still rank foremost and highest among the 
achievements of human intellect. To assume that Newton 
would have become the first of natural philosophers without 
the aid of a Trinity Fellowship, is as chimerical as to assume 
that Thomas Aquinas would have become the first of mediaeval 
theologians without having entered a Dominican convent, or 
Eaffaelle the first of modern painters without having resided 
at Florence and Eome. Yet the contributions of Newton 
alone to science assuredly outweigh in mere pecuniary value 
all that has been spent on Trinity Fellowships from his day 
to our own. 

It is true that Newton was a resident Fellow, but it is also 
true that his Fellowship was a pure sinecure, and subject to 
no conditions of residence : and this was the footing upon 
which the Oxford Commissioners of 1850 deliberately recom- 
mended that all Fellowships should be placed. ' We are by 
no means disposed,' they say, ' to impair the value of Fellow- 
ships as rewards by annexing to them the statutable condition 
of residence. . . . When the University shall have been put 
in a condition to offer sufficient inducements to enable it to 
retain the best men in its service, it may with safety leave 
them to follow their inclinations. Fellows thus elected may 
safely be allowed to pursue the career which they deem best 
for themselves. They will serve the University in their 
several professions more effectually than they could serve it 
by residence within its walls.' If this judgment is to be 
reversed, the reversal should at least be founded on a serious 


consideration of its probable effect on English society. In 
Germany, we are told, Fellowships are not found necessary ; 
but in Germany the want of Fellowships is partly supplied by 
a far more complete organisation of Professorial teaching and 
a far more effective recognition of literary merit by the State. 
In the United States that want is keenly felt, and the ' waste 
of resources ' deplored by the most cultivated Americans is 
the waste caused by the attraction of money-making on the 
minds of the ablest students, and their premature withdrawal 
from the University. This is precisely the evil to which the 
English Fellowship system provides a counterpoise, and it is 
not too much to say that Oxford and Cambridge endowments 
operate as incentives to advanced study at the Scotch and 
London Universities. If a return could be procured of the 
Scotchmen holding Fellowships at Oxford, and of the graduates 
of the London University holding Fellowships at Cambridge, 
it would be seen how much these ill-endowed Universities owe 
to their wealthier sisters. Even if the Fellowship system 
were less fruitful in visible results than it can be shown to 
be — even if the modest competence which it offers to young 
men of Uterary and scientific capacity were more frequently 
thrown away — even if it were not one of the few avenues by 
which humble merit can attain promotion— its unseen in- 
fluence in raising the standard of culture throughout all the 
learned professions, in Parliament, in official life, and, above 
all, in the Press, would still remain to be estimated. Perhaps, 
upon taking stock of these and many other collateral benefits 
which it derives from the Fellowship system, the Nation may 
arrive at the conclusion that, after all, no other 205,000L of 
public money is more profitably spent, and that, regarded 
simply as an experiment, that system does not compare un- 
favourably with far more costly experiments in gunnery and 
naval architecture. 

Here followed suggestions for a reform of the Fellowship system, 
for a moderate increase of the Professoriate, for the creation of a 
Common University Fund, and for the affiliation of Local Colleges. 

The main results of our inquiry may be summed up in a 


very few sentences. Though it is possible to alter the present 
application of Academical Endowments for the better, it 
would be far easier to alter it for the worse ; and a recognition 
of the great services actually rendered by the Universities to 
the Nation, is the only sound basis for a new measure of 
University reform. The leading object of such a measure 
should be to strengthen the Universities, as fountains of 
educational and intellectual life, by increasing the Profes- 
sorial staff ; by extending the University libraries, museums, 
galleries, and lecture rooms ; by fostering unremunerative 
study, as well as scientific training for professions, within 
College walls ; by treating both Scholarships and Fellowships 
as designed to raise up an aristocracy of education ; by 
relieving Colleges of all ecclesiastical trammels ; and by 
making them living parts of the Universities, without de- 
stroying their corporate individuality. The secondary object, 
in order of importance but not of time, should be to bring 
the Universities into organic connection with local ' faculties,' 
or rather with collegiate institutions, in great cities, by means 
of affiliation or otherwise. To effect these objects the aid of 
Parliament will be necessary, inasmuch as even if it were 
legally possible for the Universities and Colleges to legislate 
on so large a scale, with the approval of the Crown, it would 
be morally impossible for so many independent societies to 
legislate in perfect unison with each other. The recent 
failure of an attempt to establish a system of self-taxation 
among Oxford Colleges was not required to prove how vain it 
is to expect that a complete and harmonious scheme for their 
own reorganisation will be initiated by the Universities them- 
selves. The official responsibility of framing the scheme 
must be undertaken by a body representing either the Crown 
or the Legislature, but its details will have to be wrought 
out, as its principles have already been thought out, by Oxford 
and Cambridge men of a like spirit with those who for twenty- 
five years have so earnestly and so unselfishly laboured to 
nationalise both the endowments and the culture of the old 
English Universities. 



A paper read at the Social Science Congress, Brighton, in October, 1873. 

The influence actually exercised by the English Universities 
on National Education is far more considerable than is com- 
monly supposed. In the year 1868, it was alleged by so high 
an authority as Mr. Matthew Arnold, that in this country 
there was then but one matriculated student for every 5,800 
of population ; whereas in the whole of Germany there was 
one matriculated student for every 2,600 of population, and 
Prussia alone numbered 6,362 students in its eight Univer- 
sities. Now, without stopping to inquire whether Mr. Arnold's 
estimate of matriculated students in England was correct for 
the year 1868, we may satisfy ourselves by a simple reference 
to University Calendars that it is not even approximately 
correct for the year 1875. At the beginning of this year, 
there were 2,440 undergraduates at Oxford, either on the 
books of the various colleges and halls, or enrolled as unat- 
tached students. A certain deduction, it is true, must be 
made for non-resident undergraduates, but these cannot 
exceed one-sixth of the whole, and the number of resident 
students at Oxford may safely be stated at about 2,000. The 
number of resident students at Cambridge, after making a 
similar allowiince, will be found to exceed 1,800,' and those at 
Durham amount to 68, besides 61 in the College of Medicine, 
and 62 in the College of Physical Science, at Newcastle. The 
University of London outnumbers either Oxford or Cambridge 
in the nominal aggregate of its matriculated students. Even 
if we reject a large proportion of these as non-effectives, and 
' This number must have been greatly understated. 


recognise none but those who actually pass the matriculation 
examination, or actually present themselves for some inter- 
mediate examination in a single year, we cannot reckon the 
effective strength of the London University at less than 1,200 
undergi'aduates. They are not hound to residence, as in the 
older Universities, but many of them are not only residing 
but receiving a regular academical education in such collegiate 
institutions as University College, King's College, and Owens 
College at Manchester. 

We are not informed whether the Prussian muster-roll of 
6,362 students includes all those on the books. Or only those 
in actual attendance on academical lectures. However this 
may be, it is clear that England and Wales contain a gross 
total of more than 6,000 matriculated University students, 
and a net total of more than 5,000 students, or about one to 
every 4,500 of population ; in addition to all the students of 
academical age in Colleges specially connected with religious 
denominations, Theological Colleges, Naval and Military 
Colleges, Engineering Colleges, and so forth, not to speak of 
all those preparing under private tuition for the Home or 
Indian Civil Service. It may well be doubted whether the 
University system could not be so developed as to embrace 
a great many of these supernumeraries ; and, still more, 
whether a much larger proportion of the mercantile classes 
ought not to be drawn within it ; still, in the meantime, it is 
satisfactory to know that we are not so far behind Germany 
as we are sometimes told in the mere number of our Univer- 
sity students. 

But the practical influence of the older Universities on 
National Education is no more to be measured by the mere 
number of their students than the influence of Parliament on 
national policy is to be measured by the number of its mem- 
bers. Even when the number of students at Oxford and 
Cambridge was much smaller than it is at present, Oxford 
and Cambridge virtually governed the whole course of higher 
education throughout England. College Scholarships, with 
the prospect of succession to College Fellowships, were the 


most substantial rewards open to aspiring schoolboys; and 
since these, as well as University degrees and honours, were 
to be won by proficiency in classics and mathematics alone, 
classics and mathematics were the staple, if not the exclusive, 
subject of teaching in public schools and grammar schools. 
Every school of reputation professed, above all, to prepare 
boys for the Universities, and notwithstanding that only a 
small minority of boys actually proceeded thither, the in- 
struction of all the rest was limited and fettered by University 
requirements. It has at last become an acknowledged duty 
of public schools to educate boys for other careers besides the 
learned professions, and to qualify them, if possible, for pass- 
ing non-academical examinations, such as those for the Army 
and Civil Service. On the other hand, the Universities, by 
wisely extending their own narrow curriculum, are rapidly 
bringing the new studies within the range of their control, 
and, by undertaking the office of Examining Boards on a 
very large scale, they have strengthened to an extraordinary 
degree their former hold on secondary education. It had 
long been the habit of the more eminent public schools and 
grammar schools to invite the aid of University examiners in 
awarding exhibitions, or testing the results of school-work in 
the higher forms. But the indirect and irregular influence 
thus exercised by the Universities through irresponsible 
examiners was as nothing compared with the influence now 
acquired by means of the examinations conducted under the 
Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board, of the 
Local Middle-class Examinations organised independently by 
Oxford and Cambridge, of the Cambridge examinations for 
women, and of the examinations which form a part of the 
so-called Cambridge Lecture-system established in a large 
number of populous centres. It is not too much to say, that 
by forming this widespread network of examinations and 
occupying the centre of it, the Universities of Oxford and 
Cambridge have virtually made themselves arbiters of learn- 
ing over the great mass of schools above the elementary 
grade, and assumed some of the most important functions 


exercised by the Ministry of Education in other countries. 
If their governing bodies should deHberately resolve on sub- 
stituting natural science for literature as the groundwork of 
liberal education in England, or relegating Greek to the 
limbo of oblivion whence it was rescued by the pioneers of 
the Eenaissance, it is more than doubtful whether there is 
any authority capable of resisting them, unless it be that of 
the scholastic profession itself, trained in the classical and 
mathematical lore of which Oxford and Cambridge have been 
hitherto the strongholds. 

We here light on a second cause of the vast educational 
power wielded hj the older Universities. This is the fact that 
so many of those who are destined to guide the educational 
movement, directly or indirectly, have themselves passed 
under the discipline and teaching of Oxford or Cambridge. 
As Professor Seeley remarks in an able Essay on Liberal 
Education in Universities, ' the Universities are practically 
our normal schools — the places where our schoolmasters are 
trained.' All the head-masters of the fifteen leading public 
schools, nearly all the head-masters of 180 metropolitan and 
provincial grammar schools, and most of the classical assis- 
tant-masters in these schools, are graduates of Oxford or 
Cambridge, while the academical element largely preponderates 
among the masters of private schools and private tutors of 
the superior class. If an University education is no longer 
the one avenue of approach to learned professions, still the 
great body of clergymen, and of barristers, all the bishops, 
and nearly two-thirds of the judges, are alumni of English or 
Irish Universities. The Bar, it is true, has no direct relation 
to National Education, though it regulates the professional 
studies of all who seek admission to it, and contributes 
sensibly to fix the general standard of culture in society. 
But the older Universities, by virtue of their connection with 
the Church, are responsible for the guidance of National 
Education to an extent which it is hardly possible to exag- 
gerate. It is clergymen educated at these Universities who 
 not only arc the sole representatives of learning in most 


country parishes, but manage the great majority of parochial 
schools which are not under School Boards, and, where 
School Boards have been established, clergymen educated at 
these Universities have certainly not been the least active or 
influential members of them. The predominance of the older 
Universities in the direction of National Education is still 
more conspicuous in the personnel of the Education Office 
itself. The whole indoor staff of that office, consisting of 
secretaries and examiners, has been recruited from Oxford 
and Cambridge, with the exception of two gentlemen trans- 
ferred from the old Educational Department of the Privy 
Council. Out of 123 school-inspectors for Great Britain, all 
but two or three are University men, and all but six or seven 
come from Oxford or Cambridge, or from the Scotch Univer- 
sities. Not less marked is the prevalence of Oxford and 
Cambridge graduates on the staff of the Civil Service Com- 
mission, which now superintends the examinations for every 
branch of the public service. All the commissioners, secre- 
taries, and examiners, both regular and occasional, have been 
selected with the rarest exceptions from one or other of the 
older Universities. It was Oxford and Cambridge men who 
originated and shaped the open competitions for the Civil 
Service of India, and the head-masters of the great public 
schools, all Oxford or Cambridge men, have been consulted at 
every turn in constructing the scheme of Army examinations. 
If we could follow the same line of inquiry into the whole 
administrative and political service of the State, we should 
find graduates of the older Universities filling high positions 
in a ratio out of all proportion to their numbers, even as 
compared with the wealthier classes of the population. The 
present House of Commons probably contains less than an 
average share of University culture, as it contains more than 
an average share of success in business ; yet no less than 
224 members are known to have been educated at Oxford or 
Cambridge, besides those educated at Scotch or Irish Univer- 
sities. In Mr. Gladstone's original Cabinet, ten ministers 
out of fifteen were Oxford or Cambridge men ; in the present 


Cabinet, Mr. Disraeli is the only Minister who has not received 
an University education, ten out of his eleven colleagues being 
Oxford or Cambridge men, while the Lord Chancellor is a 
graduate of Dublin. But, perhaps the most potent of all 
educational agencies in a country like our own is what is 
known as the Press, with its infinite varieties of daily, weekly, 
monthly, and quartei'ly publications. If it could be ascer- 
tained how- largely English journalism and periodical litera- 
ture are indebted to Oxford and Cambridge men for their 
present characteristics, and how largely English habits of 
thought are moulded by English journalism and periodical 
literature, it would furnish a crowning proof of the imsecn 
but all-pervading influence exercised by those Universities on 
National Education. 


We have next to consider what the nature and tendency 
of this influence is — how far it is beneficial, and how far it 
is injurious to National Education. And, first, it must be 
admitted that for many centuries the Universities of Oxford 
and Cambridge were not merely far behind the educational 
requirements of their time, but had grievously degenerated 
from their own historical traditions. It is probably true, as 
Mr. Lyon Play fair contends, that most of the oldest European 
Universities were evolved from professional schools, and the 
evidence which he produces of this fact may at least serve to 
warn us against an undue depreciation of professional studies. 
But, at all events, it is certain that, in the Middle Ages, Oxford 
and Cambridge were the great intellectual workshops of the 
nation, cultivating every art and science then held in esteem. 
The old trivium and quadnrium, childish as they may now 
appear, were a more comprehensive system of instruction, 
relatively to mediaeval ideas and civilisation, than classics and 
mathematics are relatively to modern ideas and civilisation. 
A servile devotion to ancient literature and philosophy was 
not so unreasonable before the birth of modern literature and 
philosophy, and the neglect of experimental sciences which 

t> 2 


Bacon condemned in the Universities of his own day was 
infinitely more venial in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. 
than it was in the reigns of William IV. and Victoria. There 
can be no doubt to what cause these shortcomings must be 
mainly referred. Though Adam Smith erred in asserting 
broadly that most of the European Universities were originally 
ecclesiastical corporations, instituted for the education of 
Churchmen, he did not err in regarding ecclesiastical ascend- 
ancy as the bane of their educational life. So long as 
Oxford and Cambridge were treated as clerical seminaries, 
rather than as national seats of learning and education, it 
was not to be expected that any kind of attainments would 
be effectively encouraged within them except such as might 
conduce to success in the clerical profession. All the endow- 
ments of the Colleges were practically devoted to the same 
object. The most valuable of them were only tenable by 
persons in or about to enter Holy Orders, and so far as fel- 
lowships or scholarships were employed to reward merit at 
all, they were employed as prizes for proficiency in classical 
scholarship or pure mathematics. Since the schools, both 
public and private, followed, as we have seen, the lead of the 
Universities, the whole educational growth of the country was 
dwarfed and stunted by the dogmatic immobility of institu- 
tions which ought to have been foremost in every advance of 
knowledge. It is satisfactory to know that, in this respect, 
greater progress has been made by Oxford and Cambridge 
within the present generation than had been made within the 
previous century. Nevertheless, the spell of ecclesiastical 
ascendancy is not altogether broken, and, if the sciences are 
no longer regarded as the handmaids of theology, academical 
interests are even now too often sacrificed to theological 
interests, either real or imaginary. 

Another tendency which has contributed to cramp the 
expansive energies of the older English Universities, is the 
prevalent opinion in favour of establishing a common basis of 
liberal education for as many as possible of those about to 
enter learned professions or to fill important social positions 



in the country. Had this principle been limited to school 
teaching, its operation might, on the whole, have been salu- 
tary. There are doubtless certain elements of education, 
both literary and scientific, which all gentlemen ought to 
possess, and the nation may derive a real advantage from a 
community of early impressions among its governing classes. 
This advantage would have been effectually secured, had the 
older Universities seen fit to enforce such an entrance-exam- 
ination as might compel schools to send up boys thoroughly 
instructed in certain prescribed subjects. Unfortunately, the 
self-interest of inferior Colleges has prevented the adoption 
of any such measure. Hundreds of young men are yearly 
matriculated at the age of 18 or 19, with less knowledge of 
classics and mathematics than might fairly be exi:)ected from 
a boy of 15, and with no more than a smattering of any 
other subject. To employ three or four years of manhood in 
attempts to reach a minimum boyish standard in Latin, 
Greek, Euclid, and Algebra, is a miserable degradation of 
University studies, and in proposing to give an uniform 
' general education,' wholly unworthy of the name, to a mixed 
multitude of pass-men, Oxford and Cambridge have grievously 
failed to appreciate their own proper responsibilities. Granted 
that something is gained by a system under which so many 
University students are engaged in the same intellectual 
pursuits, and have a large stock of ideas in common, the loss 
in variety, independence, and vigour of thought, is more than 
equivalent. If the older English Universities compare un- 
favourably in any respect with the Universities of Germany, 
and exert a less stimulating influence on the national mind, 
it is for want of what the Germans call freedom in learning 
and freedom in teaching. This freedom is perfectly con- 
sistent with the really valuable distinctive features of English 
University education, the domestic life within colleges, and 
the relation between tutor and pupil. Students might be 
left at liberty to pursue a special line of study from their 
first entrance to the University, and yet be subjected to as 
much control, both intellectual and moral, as may be thought 


desirable, without forcing their various tastes and abihties 
into conformity with any Procrustean model. In a word, there 
may be a common basis of University training with an inex- 
haustible variety of University teaching ; a certain family 
likeness and freemasonry among University men, with the 
greatest possible mdividuality of thought and multiplicity of 

The cardinal virtues and the cardinal vices of scholasticism 
have been imported, through Academical influence, into every 
department of English education. If it be this mfluence 
which has kept alive a belief in the necessity of sound, ac- 
curate, and methodical teaching, it is this also which has 
converted into a dunce many a boy of fresh and vigorous 
intelligence. It was mainly this which, in former times, 
countenanced the notion that abstract forms of language and 
thought possess a higher educative value than concrete 
realities. It was mainly this which encouraged masters to 
neglect the perceptive faculties, and to overtax the conceptive 
faculties of young scholars. It was mainly this which favoured 
the old-fashioned prejudice against useful acquirements as 
beneath the dignity of the higher culture. It was mainly 
this which, by consecrating a few select fields of literature, 
branches of science, and systems of i^hilosophy, clipped the 
wings of original speculation, and so far impoverished the 
intellectual resources of the nation. 

Whatever services may be rendered by the Universities of 
Oxford and Cambridge in steadying and moderating the 
current of English ideas, they are certauily responsible, to 
some extent, for the inferiority of England to Germany in 
the spirit of special research. In Germany there are many 
teaching Universities, and the utmost liberty of study has 
long prevailed within each ; in England there are but two 
important teaching Universities, and in both there used to 
be a prescribed curriculum to be passed through with little 
variation by every student. Were there no other difference 
between the two nations, this difference would go far to ex- 
plain the comparative educational conservatism of England, 


and we have already seen how easily this conservatism, 
filtering downwards from the Universities into the schools, 
would leaven the entire mass of English society, lowering the 
national conception of what is due to learning and science, as 
well as of what may be acquired by ordinary minds, without 
undue effort, during twelve or fourteen years of education. 
Having enjoyed for so long the exclusive privilege of marking 
a certain order of attainment with the official stamp of a 
degree, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have been 
placed, to some extent, in the position of a national mint for 
regulating the educational currency. If this currency is 
somewhat depreciated in the eyes of foreigners, if we are 
indebted to Germany for the most scholar-like works on almost 
every subject, if an European reputation counts for too little 
beside rank and wealth in the estimation of Englishmen, and 
if Englishmen of European reputation are too often destitute 
of Academical culture, if England is far behind the Continent 
in technical education, if the Education Office dare not en- 
force in the elementary schools of England standards which 
hardly require to be enforced in Saxony or Switzerland, — on 
whom does the chief blame rest, if not on those institutions 
whose immense resources and unique prestige would have 
enabled them to support with irresistible power the upward 
struggle of intellectual progress against a combination of social 
forces seldom more adverse than at present ? 


But a new spirit has come over the older Universities with 
the great reforms of the last twenty years, and the Academical 
mind is now more than abreast of public opinion in the ap- 
preciation of their capacity for still further development. 
Let us, then, inquire by what means this vast and increasing 
influence on National Education may be rendered more 
powerful for good. This question admits of a general answer 
which few will be found to dispute. The most important, if 
not the first, step to be taken, is to make Oxford and Cam- 


bridge all that they ought to be, and are capable of becom- 
ing, within themselves. While we are seeking to propagate 
Academical culture abroad, let us make these Universities 
more fruitful nurseries of thought at home, and perfect, as 
nearly as may be, their machinery of teaching. There is no 
difficulty in indicating the principal reforms which are needed 
for this purpose. In order to place the control of studies and 
examinations in competent hands, the existing constitution 
of both Universities must be so far altered as to exclude 
chaplains, parochial clergymen, and other residents not 
engaged in education, from the right of voting on educational 
matters. In order to emancipate colleges from clerical 
interests, all fellowships must be thrown open to laymen, and 
no Archbishop or Bishop should be allowed to be Visitor ex- 
ofBcio, with the power of subordinating educational to eccle- 
siastical policy. These and some other preliminary changes 
having been accomplished by legislative enactment, the Uni- 
versities and Colleges may safely be left free to work out 
their own reorganisation under the superintendence of a 
Commission. Great as the differences between University 
reformers may appear to be, there is a very general agree- 
ment as to the principles upon which the University system 
ought to be i-econstructed. What is wanted is not so much 
external guidance as external pressure, capable of overbearing 
selfish resistance, and compelling a number of independent 
corporations to act together for ends which most of them 
acknowledge to be desirable. 

It is admitted on all hands, for instance, that without an 
effective entrance examination, to exclude those who have not 
mastered even the rudiments of a liberal education, and to 
defeat the conspiracy of bad schoolmasters with bad college 
tutors, neither University can discharge its proper functions. 
In the Middle Ages, when schools hardly existed, and Uni- 
versity students entered as boys, grammar and arithmetic 
might be a necessary part of University instruction ; in these 
days, a student ignorant of grammar and arithmetic should 
be sent back to learn them at school. Let the Universities, 


after due consideration, agree to require of all candidates for 
matriculation a 7mnunum of general culture, and thenceforth 
abandon any attempt to impress a single type of general 
culture on all their students, by exacting from them a pre- 
liminary qualification in Arts. It will then become i^ossiblo 
so to co-ordinate the Academical curriculum under various 
' Schools ' or ' Faculties ' as to embrace both those studies 
which have a purely educational value, and those which serve 
as an useful preparation for professions. The studies repre- 
sented by the Faculty of Arts, — classics and mathematics, 
logic and philosophy, — will continue to be cultivated mainly 
for their own sake ; law and medicine will be cultivated 
mainly for the sake of their professional utility ; and the 
Universities will gain quite as much as the professions by 
placing the latter studies on an equal footing with the former. 
It signifies little whether professional schools were the 
historical germ of Universities or Universities the historical 
cradle of professional learning, if by thus contributing to 
liberalise the jirofessions the Universities may derive a new 
spring of educational life. Now, it is certain that young men 
will devote themselves far more earnestly to studies which 
have a visible bearing on their future professional success, 
and there is not the smallest reason to suppose that studies 
which conduce to professional success are, for that reason, 
less useful as instruments of mental gymnastics. The assumed 
antagonism between utilitarian and non-utilitarian education 
rests, in truth, on a confusion of thought. What is really 
enervating to a student's mind, and unworthy of Academical 
education, is not useful knowledge, but any kind of knowledge, 
and especially useless knowledge, taught in a perfunctory or 
slovenly way. To an University, nothing in human science 
or art should be common or unclean, and the golden saying 
of Cicero — Omnes artes quce ad humanitatem pertinent habent 
qitoddam inter se commune vinculum — might well be inscribed 
over the portals of every Academical lecture-room. Surely, 
it would be a very perverse mode of correcting utilitarian 
propensities to establish a permanent divorce between com- 


merce or engineering and University culture. Surely, the 
more excellent way is, on the contrary, to fortify young 
merchants or engineers against the narrowing effects of 
technical routine by a thorough training in principles — to 
adopt every study, however utilitarian its objects, but to lift 
it above empiricism by scientific teaching, and thus to pene- 
trate society as deeply as possible with the true spirit of the 
scholar. As for degree examinations, against which so much 
has lately been written, it remains to be proved that ordinary 
students can dispense with such potent incentives to industry 
and such admirable methods of testing the quality of work. 
So far as sound and solid teaching has been disparaged by 
subservience to degree examinations, or independent thought 
stifled by mechanical cramming, a serious evil has doiibtless 
been done. But this evil is neither inevitable nor by any 
means uncompensated by countervaihng benefits. The remedy 
for it, where it exists, is to be sought in the better regulation, 
and not in the abolition, of degree examinations ; but, after 
all, for one student whose genius has been cramped by read- 
ing for his degree, we might certainly find several whose 
desultory ideas have been fixed by the same process and 
directed into a profitable channel. 

Another point admitted on all hands is, that no compre- 
hensive development of the University can take place without 
drawing largely upon College endowments. But it does not 
follow that it is necessary to impair, in any essential respect, 
the mtegrity of the College system. The majority of fellow- 
ships might still be retained as rewards for Academical 
industry, but they should be allotted far more liberally to 
special proficiency in studies hitherto neglected ; they should 
be tenable only for a limited period, and they should be sub- 
ject to no condition of celibacy. The residue would be avail- 
able for the more direct advancement, not of self-culture, but 
of Academical education in all its branches, and especially for 
a gradual and well-considered increase of the Professoriate. 
No jealousy of such an increase need be felt by the warmest 
admirer of collegiate life and discipline, for it is not only 


compatible with the maintenance of these advantages, but 
would greatly enhance the value of them. If all Professorial 
chairs were attached to Colleges, not without regard to ancient 
ties and associations, each Professor would gain an Academical 
home, while each College would gain the nucleus of a learned 
society. It would follow, as a natural consequence, that 
Colleges would no longer be mainly distinguished from each 
other by political, ecclesiastical, or social characteristics, but 
rather by the prevailing tone of their educational interest. 
Instead of being known as ritualistic or rationalistic, conser- 
vative or liberal, aristocratic or plebeian, fast or slow. Colleges 
might come to be renowned, and to feel a pride in being 
renowned, as schools of Philology or of Philosophy, of History 
or of Law, of Mathematics or of Natural Science. 

Professor-fellows, in short, constitute the missing link 
between University and College administration, as Professor- 
tutors are the missing link between University and College 
teaching. Though it would be requisite to found and endow 
many new professorships for which a present demand exists, 
and a few new professorships the demand for which must be 
preceded and created by the supply, most of the materials 
needed are actually "at hand. The voluntary combination of 
Colleges for purposes of lecturing, and the consequent division 
of labour among College tutors, has been carried so far at 
Oxford as to reduce appreciably both the attendance at pro- 
fessorial classes and the profits of private tuition. In other 
words, it has been found that College lectures were ineffective 
chiefly because the students were ill-assorted, and because 
the lecturers had neither time nor adequate motive for con- 
tinuing to be learners. Let the inter-collegiate arrangements 
which have already so greatly improved the quality of College 
lectures, be placed under University— that is, under profes- 
sorial—superintendence, and the abler College tutors would 
be transformed, in effect if not in name, into sub-professors 
or praelectors, without forfeiting their former position. 

While the purely educational function of the Universities 
could not fail to be invigorated by this change, post-graduate 


study and independent research would equally receive a fresb 
impulse. If a German professor were to visit the University 
of Oxford or Cambridge, with their splendid endowments and 
sumptuous buildings, their noble libraries and museums, 
their short terms and their long vacations, it is assuredly not 
the want of facilities or leisure for profound investigations 
that would strike him with amazement. On the contrary, 
remembering the meagre appliances by the aid of which so 
many of his countrym.en have produced masterpieces of 
learning or scientific analysis, during intervals snatched from 
assiduous teaching, he would justly regard the lot of an 
English professor as singularly favourable to an earnest and 
lifelong pursuit of philosophical truth. If the spirit of original 
speculation is ever to be kindled into greater activity at ' 
Oxford and Cambridge, it will not be through a diminution 
in the average number of lectures required of each professor, 
still less through a lavish creation of Academical sinecures, 
but through a judicious increase in the number of professors 
and a proper redistribution of subjects among them, with due 
provision for enlisting 8.nd rewarding the services of men who 
may be engaged in the real advancement of knowledge outside 
the Universities. It has lately been proposed, with this 
object, by an influential Committee of the Oxford Council, that 
the University should be empowered to appoint extraordinary 
professors, ' of eminent qualifications,' as well as occasional 
readers, nor is there any good reason why such auxiliaries 
should not sometimes be foreigners. It is also proposed that 
power should be obtained ' to make occasional grants to indi- 
viduals for the purpose of carrying on special work in con- 
nection with the studies or institutions of the University.' 
The funds to be thus dispensed by the University must of 
course be contributed by the Colleges, which would be further 
enabled to confer fellowships without examination upon 
persons of approved distinction who may be willing to reside 
and prosecute scientific or literary researches, too costly 
perhaps for their private means, but likelj' to hav3 a permanent 
value. No one who knows the Universities will doubt that 


Academical opinion is ripe for these and other progressive 
measures in the same direction. If they have not been 
aheady carried out by voluntary legislation, it is partly 
because Academical action seldom keeps pace with Academical 
opinion, and partly because they cannot be carried out fully 
without the assistance of Parliament. Were all statutory 
obstacles removed, and a Parliamentary Commission armed 
with authority to issue ordinances havmg the force of law, in 
the last resort, most of the difficulties now felt would vanish, 
and it would probably never be necessary to exercise that 
authority, except against one or two Colleges notorious for 
their adherence to abuses. 

The second means of enhancing the beneficial influence of 
the older Universities on National Education is to extend the 
sphere of their Academical system, by afiiliating existing local 
institutions, . by founding local University Colleges, or by 
otherwise colonising the provinces from Oxford and Cambridge. 
The object of such proposals must not be confounded with 
that of the Cambridge-Lecture system already mentioned. 
The Cambridge lectures differ from the lectures delivered in 
ordinary local institutes, only in so far as the University of 
Cambridge guarantees the competence of the lecturers, and 
conducts a voluntary examination of the students. However 
valuable the results of this system may be, it cannot be 
regarded as a substitute for the University teaching, still less 
for the collegiate discipline which Oxford and Cambridge, 
with all their faults, afford to resident students. On the 
other hand, experience shows that if the present conditions 
of residence be rigorously exacted, the great majority of 
Englishmen in the manufacturing and professional classes 
are likely to remain strangers to real Academical culture. 
The abolition of Tests has done something, and the expansion 
of the University curriculum may do more, to po^jularise 
Oxford and Cambridge ; but life is too short, and the period 
required for apprenticeship to business is too long, to admit 
of most young men destined for unlearned professions residing 
in an University town up to the age of two or three and 


twenty. Nor is this want to be met by the institution of 
local Universities. If the example of Germany may be 
pleaded in favour of multiplying Universities, that of the 
United States may be pleaded against it, and Great Britain 
resembles the United States far more closely than it resembles 
Germany in the character and circumstances of its middle 
classes. Where the State controls every department of civil 
life, and takes the Universities under its patronage, there 
will naturally be a more general demand for high University 
education in all classes of the community, and in all parts of 
the country. Where the commercial spirit rules supreme, 
where professions are open, and where no premium on high 
University education is offered by the State, local Universities 
will be apt to degenerate, as they have degenerated in America,, 
into little more than high schools. The failure of Durham as 
a classical University proves almost conclusively that, in this 
age of railways, those who desire to obtain University edu- 
cation of the Oxford and Cambridge type prefer to seek it 
at Oxford or Cambridge. Since these Universities actually 
exist, since they differ from each other quite widely enough 
to secure a wholesome competition, since they possess in a 
remarkable degree the respect of the nation, in spite of their 
many shortcomings, and since they are admirably supple- 
mented by the London University, what reason can there be 
for instituting new degree-giving bodies ? There is literally 
nothing which a local University could do which could not be 
done far better by an affiliated local College, acting as a living 
offshoot or branch of Oxford or Cambridge. Let us suppose 
that such an affiliated College were established at Liverpool 
or Birmingham, with a staff of professors and lecturers ap- 
pointed or accredited by the parent University — two things 
would remain to be settled, the conditions upon which its 
students should be accepted as members of the University, 
and the Academical status of its teaching body. It has been 
proposed, and it appears to be a reasonable proposal, tbat 
regular attendance upon lectures at an affiliated local College 
for two years should be allowed to count as one year's resi- 


dcnce at the University, whether at the beginning or at the 
end of the Academical course. On similar grounds, it would 
appear to be reasonable that professorial or tutorial service 
in an affiliated local College should count as service within 
the University itself, at least for the purpose of enabling the 
professor or lecturer to hold a fellowship longer than might 
othex'wise be permissible. The students of a College estab- 
lished on such a basis would consist of three elements, those 
attending lectures with a view to subsequent residence and 
graduation at Oxford or Cambridge, those attending lectures 
after residence but prior to graduation at Oxford or Cambridge, 
and those attending lectures without aspiring to an University 

It would be among the main objects of an affiliated local 
College to supply an organic connection between secondary, if 
not also primary, schools and the older Universities. This is 
not the place to consider in detail the means whereby such a 
connection may be wrought out and fitted into our national 
system of education, but it is evident that University and 
College exhibitions, tenable for a limited period at affiliated 
local Colleges, might form an invaluable part of it. In this 
way, and to this extent, affiliated local Colleges might derive 
benefit from Academical endowments, but it would be a waste 
of Academical endowments to employ them in localising Uni- 
versity education, instead of in attracting students to Oxford 
and Cambridge, where the same resources can be employed 
to much better profit. So far, therefore, as these Colleges 
were not self-supporting, they would depend, and ought to 
depend, on local guara.ntees ; and m any great town where 
no sufficient local guarantees would be forthcoming, the proof 
would be decisive that no sufficient demand existed to justify 
the foundation of a local affiliated College. 


To elevate and to extend the influence of the older Uni- 
versities on National Education — such, in a word, are the 
ends to be steadily kept in view by University reformers. 


Happily, these ends, though distinct, are by no means con- 
flicting, but, on the contrary, are only to be attained by 
simultaneous and harmonious efforts. The more exalted the 
standard of literary and scientific culture reached at Oxford 
and Cambridge, the more worthily the dignity of learning is 
there maintained, and the more boldly every inferior ambition 
is there rejected, the stronger the hold that Oxford and Cam- 
bridge ■will acquire on the confidence of the people. On the 
other hand, the more closely they are brought into contact 
with the great industrial movement of the age, the less 
amateur, so to speak, will become the spirit of study within 
the Universities themselves, the more eager their pursuit of 
knowledge, and the more earnest their recognition of their 
noble mission — a mission which embraces not merely the 
broader and deeper cultivation of the national intellect, but 
the revival, it may be, of a taste for plain living and high 
thinking in English society. If the measures here suggested 
appear at first sight too modest to be very efficacious for such 
a purpose, let it be remembered how much can be effected by 
simple reforms, where they are founded on a self-acting 
principle. The present generation fully realises that know- 
ledge — that is, practical knowledge — is power; the fact of 
which it needs to be convinced is that knowledge of this kind 
is to be acquired most effectually by passing through an 
University education. Let the older Universities once become 
the highest national school of Arts and Sciences as well as of 
Letters, and the love of wealth, now the arch-enemy of Aca- 
demical culture, will be enlisted as its ally. Let the mercantile 
and professional classes once learn to regard the older 
Universities as their own, and the influx of new students, 
crowding the lecture-rooms of Professors, will give a life to 
professorial teaching which it can derive from no other source. 
In the meantime, one thing is certain, ajid ought to be 
laid to heart. If the older Universities fail to render the 
nation this inestimable service of representing and guiding 
its highest intellectual aspirations, there is no other power in 
the realm capable of supplying their place. The State may 


aid and regulate elementary education, but elementary State 
education naturally gravitates towards a minimum standard, 
and neither State patronage nor State control will ever hasten 
the advent of a second Newton. The Church may do much 
to vindicate spiritual against material interests, but if the 
Church were thrice as enlightened and truly national as it is, 
it could not be trusted or suffered to lead the nation in the 
pursuit of truth for its own sake. A multitude of petty local 
Universities, if they could be founded, might temper the 
vulgarity of purely mercantile communities, but they could 
not be expected to attract eminent men as teachers, or to 
command due respect as fountains of literary and scientific 
honour. This can be done by the older Universities, and by 
them alone, among existing English institutions. They and 
they alone can reconcile democracy with aristocracy, in the 
best sense of those much perverted words, through a graduated 
system of promotion by intellectual merit. They and they 
alone can oppose a corporate spirit and a venerable authority 
— the massive growth of ages — to plutocratic tendencies, 
which in this country, no less than in America, have deeply 
infected the springs of public virtue. They and they alone, 
by extending their empire ever more and more over the lead- 
ing minds of the nation, can so influence National Education, 
as gradually but surely to ennoble national character. 



Delivered at the Social Science Congress, Cheltenham, October 1878. 

The progress of National Education in this country during 
the last thirty y^ars, though recognised by all, is practically 
realised by very few even of those who, like ourselves, are 
specially concerned with it. No public documents, however 
comprehensive, would enable us to measure it, but, unhappily, 
no comprehensive report on National Education in all its 
branches is ever laid before Parliament. The Education 
Department, indeed, publishes annual returns which may be 
accepted as an authoritative and tolerably complete account 
of the advance made by Primary Education in England and 
Wales, and those for last year were carefully analysed in a 
paper read at Aberdeen by our Hon. Secretary, Mr. Eowland 
Hamilton. The facts relating to workhouse schools may be 
gleaned from the Eeports of the Local Government Board ; 
the Charity Commissioners, now invested with the powers of 
the Endowed Schools Commission, annually record the result 
of their proceedings ; and these sources of information are 
occasionally supplemented by papers compiled, under the 
order of Parliament, at the instance of some individual 
member. But there is certainly no compendious statement 
which could be placed in the hands of a foreigner as exhibit- 
ing the actual condition and growth of English education. 
Primary, Secondary, and Academical, for any single year ; 
much less are there well-digested official materials for a com- 
parison of its condition in 1878 with its condition in 1848. 
Believing that such a retrospect may be encouraging to faint- 
hearted advocates of National Education, and may also serve 
to indicate the direction in which further reforms are needed. 


I will endeavour to review, within the smallest possible com- 
pass, what has been effected in the course of the last thirty 
years — a period covering but one human generation, and 
crowded with events which have too often diverted the public 
mind from any steadfast purpose of self-improvement. If we 
shall find reason to conclude that during this period National 
Education in England has made greater strides than during 
the previous century — we shall not be the more justified in 
shutting our eyes to its many shortcomings, or the less free 
to grapple with the open questions to be discussed in this 
department. However interesting it may be to compare the 
educational statistics of this country with those of continental 
nations or of the United States, it is far more profitable to 
ascertain the rate, and study the course, of educational pro- 
gress at home. Comparative statistics of education in various 
countries are misleading, because they cannot be reduced to 
a common standard. The nominal proportion of scholars 
to population may be large, and yet the educational results 
may be meagre, if the average attendance be low or the 
average teaching inef&cient. The proportion of illiterate 
soldiers depends in a great degree on the number of men 
annually enlisted and the mode of their enlistment, since 
recruits are most easily obtained from the lower strata of 
society. The proportion of men and women signing the 
marriage register with marks is a rough test of the depth to 
which popular education had penetrated ten or fifteen years 
earlier, but not of the depth to which it now penetrates. 
Moreover, though we have much to learn from the experience 
of foreign nations, we must not imagine that any system of 
National Education can be worked out in strict conformity 
with a foreign model, or otherwise than in harmony with the 
spirit and institutions of the people to be educated. 

I. Here followed a review of the progress made by Primary 
Education in England between 1848 and 1878, as tested by the 
Eeports of the Education Department on school-attendance and 

But the Reports of the Education Department are not the 

£ 2 


only evidence of the extent to which the spread of Primary 
Education has leavened the population within the past thirty 
years. We see its direct effects in the decreasing number of 
persons signing the marriage register with marks, of recruits 
unable to read or write,' of illiterate voters, and of labourers 
who, being ' no scholars,' can undertake no duties above those 
which a clever savage might perform. We see its indirect 
effect in the ever-increasing circulation of penny newspapers 
and other cheap literature, in the constant multiplication of 
popular reading rooms, in the overwhelming number of appli- 
cations for clerks' places, and — we may reasonably believe — 
in the steady decline of pauperism and crime. The extra- 
ordinary diminution of juvenile offenders in the Metropolis, 
attested by the Commissioners of Police and by the Governors 
of Prisons, has exactly coincided with the enforcement of 
school attendance by the School Board ofi&cers, and as old 
criminals are usually developed out of young criminals, we 
may fairly expect the number of convictions to be still further 
reduced in future. Upon the whole, then, we have reason to 
congratulate ourselves on the progress of Primary Education 
during the short period under review. We may still have 
' much leeway to make up,' but we have done the work of far 
more than one generation in the past thirty years, and our 
educational position, relatively to other countries, is far less 
humiliating than it was in 1848, when very few Englishmen 
were ashamed of it. 

II. The history of Secondary Education in England during 
the last thirty years has not been less eventful, though it 
has been less directly shaped by legislative action. It is not 
too much to say that, in 1848, the ancient Public Schools, 
mostly founded in the 15th and 16th centuries, were still 
essentially Elizabethan in their curriculum of studies, in 

' The last Triennial Report by the Director-General of Military Education, 
dated July 1877, shows that, whereas in 1873 the percentage of soldiers who 
could neither read nor write was 601, in 1870 it was l-OS ; and that, whereas 
in 1873 the percentage of those in the first or ' better educated ' class was 
32-61, in 1876 it was 44'95. 


their methods of teaching, and in the characteristic features 
of their internal government, no less than in their architecture 
and system of discipline. Of the great proprietary schools 
included in the Public Schools Calendar, some were then in 
their mfancy, like Cheltenham and Marlborough ; all the 
rest, including Wellington College, Haileybury, and Clifton, 
have sprung up since that date. The majority of them pro- 
bably owe their origin to a spontaneous demand for a cheaper 
and somewhat less antiquated form of Public School Educa- 
tion than could then be obtained at Eton or Winchester, 
Pvugby or Harrow. But there can be no doubt that all of 
them have largely profited by the discussion which preceded 
the appointment of the Public Schools Commission in 1861, 
by the Pieport of the Commissioners on nine of the ancient 
Public Schools, and by the influence of reforms subsequently 
carried out there in pursuance of the Public Schools Act. 
Very few of the Endowed Grammar Schools then reached 
even the low standard of the ancient Public Schools, in the 
range or efficiency of their instruction, and if a Grammar 
School won a high reputation at the Universities, it was 
usually by virtue of exceptional energy in its head-master, and 
not of any perfection in its organisation. As for the whole 
class of genteel Commercial Academies, they were already 
proverbial for pretentious inefficiency, and private schools for 
boys of the upper and middle classes were naturally content 
to follow the lead of Public Schools and Grammar Schools. 
Considered from a purely intellectual point of view, and 
relatively to its cost, the Secondary Education of England, 
thirty years ago, was in a still more backward state than its 
Primary Education, and even after the shortcomings of our 
Primary Education were freely acknowledged, the short- 
comings of our Secondary Education were regarded by the 
national mind with indifference or self-complacency. Indeed, 
the first vigorous impetus given to Secondary Education 
must be dated after the Crimean War, and whatever has been 
done to bring it under the effective control of public opinion 
has been done, for the most part, within the last twenty years. 


Here followed a review of the progress made by Secondary 
Education in England between 1848 and 1878, illustrated by the 
example of Eton, by the Keports of the Oxford and Cambridge 
Boards on Public Schools and Local Examinations, by the Report 
of the Charity Commission on Educational Endowments, by the 
rise of Pubhc Day Schools for Girls, and by the growth of profes- 
sional Colleges. 

Nor must we forget either the stimulus imparted to 
secondary education by the new system of competitive exam- 
ination for the public services, or the great, if not disinter- 
ested, assistance ' rendered to it by the much-abused class of 
' crammers.' It was stated by Mr. C. S. Parker, in an able 
Paper read before the Aberdeen Congress, that in the year 
1875 the Civil Service Commissioners examined nearly 4,000 
candidates for over 1,000 appointments of the higher order, 
including first commissions in the Army, Woolwich Cadetships, 
Marine Cadetships, and various posts in the Civil Service of 
this country and of India. The great majority of these 
candidates were doubtless prepared, wholly or partially, by 
crammers. Now, so far as the art of a crammer is directed 
to arming his pupils with answers to probable questions, by 
memoria technica, or some equally mechanical process, it 
cannot be regarded with much respect from an educational 
point of view ; though it may well be doubted whether it is 
not better for a human mind to be unscientifically overcropped 
than to be left absolutely fallow and overgrown with noisome 
weeds. So far, however, as crammers are successful in help- 
ing their pupils to master a modern language, a few books of 
Euclid, a period of history, or the geography of a country, in 
the shortest possible time, they must have practised effective 
methods of teaching not unworthy of imitation, and there is 
no want of charity in suspecting that a certain professional 
jealousy is mingled with the moral indignation of which they 
are so often the objects. After all, knowledge is valuable for 
its own sake, however it may have been acquired ; and before 
we lavish contemptuous pity on a youth for having got up a 
useful subject too hastily, with the aid of a crammer, let us 


be quite sure that, without the aid of a crammer, he would 
have got it up at all. It must at least be owned that the 
necessity of studying for competitive examinations under 
skilful guidance, rudely disturbing the reign of well-bred 
ignorance in high places, has operated as a powerful agent in 
the progress of Secondary Education. 

III. The change that has passed over the older English 
Universities dm-ing the same period is not less remarkable or 
encouraging. Let us glance rapidly at the state of Oxford 
thirty years ago, bearing in mind that what applies to Oxford 
applies also in the main to Cambridge, where the academical 
system, though somewhat more liberal in a social and theolo- 
gical sense, was in some other respects even narrower and 
less elastic than at Oxford. 

Here followed a description of the Oxford system before 1854, 
founded on that in ' The Universities and the Nation.' 

The entire number of Oxford students, resident and non- 
resident, amounted in 1848 to less than 1,500, the number 
of Cambridge students being then somewhat greater. Of 
these, the great majority at both Universities were content 
with a mere ' pass,' and spent two or three years between 
their ' little-go ' and ' great-go ' examinations in acquiring a 
viiniimim of classical knowledge at the one, or of mathematical 
knowledge at the other, so meagre and elementary that it 
might well have been exacted at matriculation. ' Classics 
and Mathematics ' were, indeed, the only subjects in which 
honours could be taken at either University, though ' Classics ' 
at Oxford included Ancient History, Moral Philosophy, and 
liOgic, while ' Mathematics ' at Cambridge encroached on the 
domain of Physical Science. Notwithstanding the ease with 
which a pass-degree could be obtained in those days, the 
number of students graduating at Oxford in a single year 
rarely exceeded 300 ; the average yearly number of first-class 
men in the school of ' Literae Humaniores ' was 10 or 12, and 
of first-class men in the school of Mathematics, perhaps 5 or 
G. Modern History, Law, Physical Science in all its branches. 


except those strictly allied to Mathematics, and even Theology 
itself, were equally ignored in the honour-examinations of 
both Universities. Yet these examinations were all-powerful 
in governing the intellectual aspirations of students, and the 
earnest prosecution of literary culture or scientific research 
for its own sake, though not absolutely unknown, was certainly 
very rare. As for the extension of University influence to 
Secondary Education, or to semi-academical education outside 
Oxford and Cambridge, such an idea may have occurred to a 
few enlightened minds, but had never found expression in 
any practical scheme. 

The reforms adopted by the Universities in anticipation of 
legislative interference, the reforms introduced by the Com- 
missions appointed under Lord Aberdeen's Administration, 
the supplementary reforms by which the work of those Com- 
missions has been followed up, and the operation of the 
University Tests Act, have transformed at once the constitu- 
tion, the curriculum, and the educational character of both 
Universities. At Oxford there are now upwards of 2,500 
matriculated undergraduates, including some 140 members 
of the new Keble College, and including also some 300 or 400 
' unattached students,' belonging to no College, but with full 
Academical rights, and under the superintendence of special 
officers. University administration is now in the hands of a 
Council fairly representing the various classes of Academical 
society, checked by a vigorous little Parliament composed of 
resident masters and doctors. College administration is in 
the hands of Fellows, selected entirely by merit, and largely 
imbued with the spu'it of reform. Though candidates for 
degrees are still required to qualify themselves in Latin and 
Greek, the study of ancient languages may be dismissed after 
passing the intermediate examination called Moderations, 
which also serves the useful purpose of breaking the time- 
honoured continuity of idleness between the ' little-go ' and 
the ' great-go.' The honour-lists in the old school of ' Liters 
Humaniores ' are now much larger than in 1848, but new 
schools of Law, of History, of Natural Science, and of Theology, 


have established themselves, on all but equal terms, side by 
side with the old schools of Classics or Mathematics, and 
those who take honours of the first, second, or third class in 
any non-classical school, are relieved from the somewhat 
humiliating necessity of 'passing' in Classics. Both Scholar- 
ships and Fellowships are freely offered for proficiency in 
these studies, and if they are not so often awarded to scientific 
candidates as to scholars, it is because Oxford still attracts 
a much larger proportion of advanced scholarship than of 
scientific ability. The list of Professors is now almost twice 
as long as it was in 1848, and the number of lectures given 
by Professors is many times as great, notwithstanding that 
College tuition has been largely improved and developed 
thi-ough inter-collegiate arrangements known at Oxford as 
' tJie Combined Lecture System.' Natural Science, for special 
and obvious reasons, is almost exclusively taught by Professors 
and their assistants, for the most part at the University 
Museum — an institution alsd founded within the last 30 
years. Nor has this vast increase of educational activity in 
Oxford been purchased by a diminutioh of literary or scientific 
results ; on the contrary, learning and research have kept 
pace, as might be expected, with the greater energy of teach- 
ing. Though Oxford would not presume, and does not 
aspire, to compete with her German rivals in the multiplica- 
tion of monographs edifying only to a select circle of savants, 
a collection of the independent works, and still more of the 
valuable articles in literary and scientific periodicals (not to 
speak of journals), written by Oxford Professors and Tutors 
in the course of a single year, would effectually silence those 
who affect to deplore the intellectual sterility of our older 
Universities. The impression that Oxford is mainly a clerical 
and aristocratic seminary would prove, on inquiry, to be 
equally obsolete. By means of open Scholarships and Exhi- 
bitions, as well as by the admission of ' unattached students,' 
belonging to no College, a very large infusion of plebeian and 
even of democratic elements has been imported into it, all 
religions are there mingled harmoniously, nor is it uncommon 


to meet in the streets young men of Oriental race and com- 
plexion, wearing Academical costume. One or two Colleges 
may have succeeded in keeping themselves exclusive, but the 
University has become thoroughly cosmopolitan. Nearly the 
same may be said of Cambridge, which has always drawn 
mathematical aspirants from the humbler ranks in the North 
of England ; and it is gratifying that such collegiate institu- 
tions as Girton College for the higher education of young 
women, and Cavendish College for that of youths chiefly 
destined to be farmers, have grown up under the shadow of 
that ancient University, and not without the support of its 

Here followed a review of the University-extension movement, , 
and of the work done by the University of London. 

IV. It is now time for us to consider briefly certain weak 
points which remain to be strengthened, and certain open 
questions which remain to be settled, in the future develop- 
ment of National Education in England. Three such ques- 
tions have been selected for special treatment at the present 
Congress, and I shall not anticipate their discussion.' Those 
to which I shall now refer are not perhaps more important 
than others which might be suggested, but have been forced 
upon my own attention in dealing practically with Primary, 
Secondary, and Academical Education. 

Here followed a paragraph on izTegularity of school attendance 
and ' capricious migration.' 

1. It is on a gradual process of popular enlightenment that 
we must chiefly rely for any marked improvement in what 
may be called the social and civilising results of Elementary 
Schools in this country. Though England may compare 

' These questions were the following : — 

Is it desirable to establish Free Pi-imary Schools throughout the country ? 
Is it expedient to increase the number of Universities in England ? 
In what way is it desirable to connect the system of Primary Schools with 
the Endowed and other Schools that supply Secondary Education ? 


favourably with France, and not very unfavourably with the 
United States, in the mere percentage of adults who can read 
and write, both French and American education are apparently 
superior to English education in their humanising influence 
on the people. A French peasant may be quite illiterate, 
ignorant of newspapers, and the ready dupe of political impo- 
sition, yet the brightness of his intelligence and the grace of 
his manners strike every English traveller. But then he is 
hardly ever stupified by drink, and history tells us that 
national characters and tastes are moulded by many other 
agencies besides mere schooHng. Where a traditional sense 
of proprietorship has been fortified by a new sense of social 
equality, as in France ; where every school imbibes the 
stimulating and restless atmosphere of commercial enterprise, 
as in America ; or where every home is penetrated with the 
democratic spirit of Presbyterian Church-government, as in 
Scotland ; a given amount of book-knowledge will go much 
fm'ther in sharpening the faculties than in the stagnant 
climate of an English country-parish. Nevertheless, in spite 
of express injunctions in the Education Code, it is impossible 
to be satisfied with the success of English Elementary Schools 
in civilising their scholars by inculcating ' good manners and 
language,' ' cleanliness and neatness,' ' consideration and re- 
spect for others ; ' and in this kind of cultivation the schools 
of Scotland must rank below those of England. 

Nor can we afford to be content with the average pro- 
ficiency even of those children who attend regularly enough 
to earn a grant in English schools. After making due allow- 
ance for the fact that many children of 9, 10, or 11, now 
forced into school under compulsory bye-laws, are perfectly 
raw material and might properly be classed with infants, as 
well as for the fact that under the present rules many scholars 
capable of passing their examination are excluded from it by 
default of attendance, we must still regard it as lamentable 
that only 270,317 children were presented last year in the 
three higher standards, and that nearly half failed to pass 
in three subjects. 


Here followed remarks on shortcomings in the higher school 

Happily, it is morally certain that each succeeding year 
will show a marked improvement. As School Boards multiply, 
and School Attendance Committees resolve to enforce as well 
as to frame bye-laws, both the amount and the regularity of 
attendance will be largely increased. As the schools are less 
flooded with older scholars ignorant of their letters, more and 
more will be presented in the higher standards. As methods 
of teaching become perfected in the hands of trained masters 
and mistresses, it will become possible to impart more know- 
ledge in a shorter time. As young people reclaimed by 
schooling from barbarism and heathenism grow up and 
become parents, they will be less disposed than parents of ' 
the former generation to mar the refining influences of school 
teaching and school discipline by setting their children the 
example of bad habits and bad language at home. 

But one thing more is needful. In the choice of subjects, 
as well as in the methods of teaching, we must strive to make 
every hour of schooling tell upon the practical wants of the 
scholar's future life. Let us never lose sight of the fact that 
Primary Education is not the first stage of education for the 
great mass of the wage-earning classes, but the whole of their 
education. Every page read should therefore, if possible, be 
• a vehicle of useful knowledge, every sum worked out should 
call up the idea of concrete realities, every lesson in geography 
should enable the child to feel at home in thinking of distant 
localities. It is because it appeals so directly to a child's 
faculty of observation and sense of utility that Elementary 
Science deserves the place that Sir John Lubbock claims for 
it in Primary Education. If it be idle to suppose that young 
men will study what they believe to be useless as earnestly as 
what they know to be useful, merely for the sake of mental 
discipline, still more idle is it to suppose that children will 
give their minds to dull abstractions as readily as to some- 
thing tangible and capable of being explained by experiment. 
Even as a mere instrument of mental discipline. Elementary 


Science is certainly not inferior to Grammar, and if room 
could not be found in a school time-table for both these 
subjects, I should prefer to sacrifice Grammar. Those who 
contend that an Englishman cannot learn his own mother 
tongue correctly without the aid of abstruse grammatical 
formuliE are bound to show how it came to pass that all the 
great masterpieces of classical literature, which serve as 
models of style to modern authors, were produced by men 
who, so far as we know, were utterly ignorant of Grammar, 
and lived before it was invented. For the purpose of rapidly 
acquiring a foreign language. Grammar is of great value, and 
there are a very few broad grammatical rules which it may 
be well to impress upon children as part of their lessons in 
reading and writing ; but I venture to express a doubt whether 
the more formal teaching of Grammar in Elementary Schools 
is not a waste of time grievously needed for subjects which 
not only discipline the mind but equip it for the battle of life. 

Here followed a notice of the proposal for grouping children in 
the higher standards into Central Schools. 

"When the extravagance of School Boards is held up to 
public reprobation, and when it is inferred that, in proportion 
as Board Schools are substituted for Voluntary Schools, the 
general public will be heavily taxed, a great many things are 
forgotten. It is forgotten that School Boards, having to 
provide immediately for neglected districts without the aid of 
Government building grants, are compelled to buy sites, often 
at an exorbitant cost, to build schools of the best construction 
at the present high rate of building prices, and to pay the 
interest on sums borrowed for these purposes. It is forgotten 
that on them falls the whole burden of working the machinery 
of compulsion, by which Voluntary Schools equally benefit. 
It is forgotten that having to educate the most intractable 
class of children, and being expected to serve as a pattern of 
school organisation, they must needs employ an expensive 
class of teachers. Above all, it is forgotten that School 
Boards are doing work imposed upon them by the Legislature, 


because voluntary effort had failed to do it ; that if it were 
not done by Sdhool Boards it would have to be done by some 
other agency ; and that, in this case, even if the new agency 
were voluntary, the money would not come from the clouds, 
but from one or other of the national pockets. The financial 
question between Voluntary or Board Schools is not a ques- 
tion between economy and waste; it is a question between 
two modes of raising a given revenue — between the eleemosy- 
nary support of schools by contributions from the clergy or a 
benevolent section of the upper class, and the public support 
of schools by contributions from the whole community. No 
doubt many ratepayers, who disdain to use Board Schools, 
would gladly send their children to be educated at Voluntary 
Schools, without paying either subscription or rates. But 
the poorer and less fastidious ratepayers have little reason to 
complain of the terms on which they obtain education at 
Board Schools for their children. Let us take the school- 
rate for London at 5d. in the pound, and let us suppose a 
parent, with two children of school-age, occupying a tenement 
valued at 20Z. a year. He will thus pay 8s. 4rf. in rates, and 
perhaps 15s. a year in school fees — 11. 3s. id. in all. But 
the real cost of schooling for two children will amount to 
about 51. a year, so that he will obtain it for less than a 
fourth of the cost-price. There are, of course, many advan- 
tages on the side of the Voluntary system, and it has yet to 
be proved that public spirit is so effective a motive as Christian 
zeal for the careful and conscientious management of schools. 
But the notion that equal results can be procured for less 
money under the Voluntary than under the Board system is 
a pure delusion which ought not to be sanctioned by official 

2. Perhaps the reform that is most urgently needed in 
Secondary Education is a comprehensive revision of the cur- 
riculum now adopted with too little variation by nearly all 
Grammar Schools and other schools of the same grade. 
Until very lately it was thought perfectly natural, and not 
otherwise than satisfactory, that full twelve years of life. 


from 6 or 7 to 18 or 19, should be almost exclusively consumed 
in acquiring a very imperfect knowledge of two dead languages ; 
for very few boys succeeded in appropriating the real treasures 
of Latin and Greek literature. This classical monopoly has 
at last been invaded, but the masters of Grammar Schools 
have not yet shaken off the impression that it is their 
principal duty to prepare a few boys for the Universities, 
where Classics and Mathematics are still in the ascendant. 
Now, what is Secondary Education for the vast majority of 
those who avail themselves of it ? Secondary Education is 
the education of boys and girls who can afford to cultivate 
their minds during the whole period of growth, but no longer ; 
just as Primary Education is the education of children who 
must earn their liveliliood, as boys and girls, before they 
grow up, while University Education is the education of adults 
who can spare a few years of manhood to gain a greater 
maturity of culture. The main business of Elementary 
Schools is to give the best training for children about to be 
engaged in manual labour, due provision being also made for 
the very small minority capable of rising to schools of a 
higher grade, and the main business of Grammar Schools is 
to prepare the great mass of their scholars for commercial 
and professional careers, due provision being also made for 
the much smaller class destined for the Universities. To 
frame such a course of studies as shall best prepare youths 
for the requirements of commercial and professional life in 
these days is a task worthy of the highest educational states- 
manship, but it is self-evident that modern requirements are 
no longer to be satisfied by an education which sufficed in the 
reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Latin and Greek constituted 
the staple of European Uterature, when Natural Science was 
barely struggling into existence, and when Englishmen had 
little occasion to go, or to correspond, beyond their own 
island. It is probable that Latin, as the key to so many of 
the modern languages and so much of modern thought, may 
still hold its own in Secondary Education, but I cannot doubt 
that Greek — notwithstanding that it is the language of the 


New Testament — will ere long be classed among the luxuries, 
and not among the necessaries, of scholarship, even at the 
ancient Public Schools. 

Here followed reasons against a Government Inspection of 
Secondary Schools. 

3. It is the less necessary for me to dwell at any length 
on the vexed questions connected with University Education, 
because I stated my views on many of them in a paper read 
before the Brighton Congress, and there are none of those 
views which I desire to retract. The Legislature has since 
passed Acts for the further reform of Oxford and Cambridge, 
and Executive Commissions have been appointed to carry out 
the measures therein contemplated. The chief aim of these 
measures is to develope the educational resources of the 
University at the expense of the Colleges, and it is generally 
agreed that, within certaua limits, this redistribution of funds 
is expedient, if not strictly in accordance with legal doctrines ; 
but very grave differences of opinion exist as to the ultimate 
ideal to be kept in view, and I must not shrink from as- 
serting, plainly and succinctly, my own convictions on this 
subject. I regard the Universities as essentially places of 
Academical education, and only incidentally as retreats or 
places of study for learned men. According to my concep- 
tion, their primary and noblest function is the instruction 
and training of youth for the higher walks of professional 
and public life — not monastic self-culture or even the produc- 
tion of monographs, whether literary or scientific. So long 
as Classics and Mathematics with the other subjects embraced 
in the Faculty of Arts were the only subjects which English 
gentlemen cared to cultivate, the demand for teaching was 
admirably supplied by the better Colleges, and it would have 
been a sheer waste of public money to'found new Professor- 
ships, when the existing Professors either did not lecture at 
all or lectured to almost empty benches. Now that the range 
of University studies is so largely and beneficially widened, 
the College system, invaluable as it is, has become inadequate 


to provide the variety of teaching required, and, moreover, 
the peculiar exigencies of teaching in Natural Science point 
to a concentration of lecture rooms, with laboratories, 
museums, and other scientific accessories, under University 
superintendence. Hence the necessity for more Professors, 
and an extension of University establishments ; and this 
necessity is further strengthened by the recent admission and 
constant accession of students attached to no College. Other 
contributions from the Colleges may be needed to found Uni- 
versity, as distinct from College, Scholarships, and to organise 
University tuition in certain non-scientific subjects hitherto 
unduly neglected. When, however, it is proposed to go far 
beyond this, and to divert by wholesale revenues now invested 
in Fellowships in order to create a Professoriate on the scale of 
those at the German Universities, together with a number of 
pensions to reward or stimulate ' mature learning and original 
research,' I cannot but deprecate so revolutionary a change, 
in the interest of learning no less than in that of education. 

The analogy between the English and German Universities 
is radically fallacious, because, in the absence of College 
tuition and discipline, the German Professor stands in the 
place both of the English University Professor and of the 
English College-tutor. As a tutor, he labours under the 
grievous disadvantage of having no strictly tutorial authority 
or responsibility ; but at all events, and above all, he is an 
educator — not a sinecurist, despising the duty of imparting 
knowledge to common minds and wrapped up in his own 
speciality. The subject which he ' represents ' may attract 
but a small class, but he teaches it all the more thoroughly ; 
and the very last privilege which he would think of demand- 
ing would be the privilege of devoting himself to lifelong 
study, on full salary, without the obligation of teaching. 
The German Professors who have done most for the advance- 
ment of literature and science have been zealous and successful 
lecturers ; and if the purely ornamental Professor would be 
out of place at Berlin, still more would he be out of place at 
Oxford or Cambridge. So long as the older English Univer- 



sities retain that essentially collegiate character which con- 
stitutes their life, and so long as the intellect of the nation 
continues to be practical rather than speculative, a moderate 
number of working Professors, aided by a larger body of 
Tutors, acting in harmony with them and under their general 
superintendence, will be amply sufficient for every legitimate 
requirement of Academical education. Those who are capable 
of original investigations have six months of leisure in which 
to pursue them, and there is no reason why special grants 
should not be made from the University chest for special 
work of this kind, whether done by Professors or by others, 
of whom there will always be many, residing at Oxford and 
Cambridge for the prosecution of advanced study. 

Here followed a quotation from my own letters in the ' Times ' 
on the Fellowship-system. 

That which is needed at our older Universities is not a 
root-and-branch destruction of their constitution and spirit, 
but, simply, a better organisation of their educational power ; 
and this want of organisation is the grand defect of English 
National Education in all its branches. We have numerous 
and excellent Elementary Schools in all the large towns, but 
their distribution has been mostly governed by parochial and 
not by public considerations ; many of them are under inde- 
pendent bodies of managers, and almost every one is managed 
on thoroughly ' insular ' principles, being connected with no 
other elementary school by a system of gradation or division 
of labour, and with no school of a higher class by Scholarships 
or Exhibitions. School Boards have not been elected even in 
all the great towns ; in smaller towns and country districts, 
their place is generally supplied by School-attendance Com- 
mittees representing the Boards of Guardians. After all, 
schools for pauper children are outside the School Board 
system, and inspected under a separate department, while 
technical schools hardly exist at all. Our secondary Public 
Schools excel all others in the world as training-grounds for 
the formation of a manly character, but until very lately they 


claimed the right of teaching as little as they pleased, un- 
molested by any external authority, and even now are not 
only exempt from official inspection, but subject to no such 
test of efficiency as a general ' leaving-examination.' As for 
our Military, Naval, Engineering, Agricultural, Theological, 
and other professional Colleges, they are scattered about the 
island, for the most part in healthy situations, but with a 
sublime disregard for concentration of teaching-power, and 
without a link to connect them with any other educational 
institution in England. Even the long-predicted ladder of 
educational promotion, reaching from the gutter to the Uni- 
versities, still remains to be constructed, for though a boy of 
exceptional ability at a Grammar School has a fair chance 
of gaining a College Scholarship, the percentage of children 
passing from Elementary Schools to Grammar Schools is 
extremely small, and will not be materially increased, until 
Exhibitions of sufficient value to cover both the cost of school- 
ing and the cost of maintenance shall be provided in sufficient 
number. Nor can I forbear to notice, among the many signs 
of defective organisation, the want of authorised text-books 
for Elementary Schools, and the elaborate but chaotic ob- 
scurity of the so-called New Code yearly issued by the Educa- 
tion Department, the result of successive revisions never 
reduced to order by a capable draftsman, and the cause of 
infinite perplexity to all concerned with the management of 
Elementary Schools. 

Here followed a notice of proposals for establishing a general 
Educational Council. 

I shall not enter here into the comparative merits of these 
schemes, but I will venture to point out that, while any Edu- 
cational Council that may be formed must derive its powers 
from Act of Parliament, no such Council, however ample its 
powers, could supi^ly the place of an Education Minister. No 
doubt, the extension of direct State control over the whole 
system of National Education in England would be equally 
inconsistent with English notions of liberty and with the 

F 2 


highest ideal of educational development. Hitherto Govern- 
ment has confined its du'ect action to laying down the con- 
ditions upon which State aid shall be granted to Elementary 
Schools, regulating the application of trust funds and creat- 
ing new governing bodies in Endowed Schools and the Uni- 
versities, and requiring that every child shall attend school 
up to a certain age. But in a multitude of indirect ways the 
province of Government overlaps the province of Education, 
and it is a grievous national misfortune that no Minister is 
charged with the duty of overlooking this province in its 
entirety, with a view to initiate any legislation that may be 
required, or at least to criticise with some authority the 
proposals of others. It is possible to be too superstitiously 
jealous of State interference in this sense, as if Parliament, 
or a Government responsible to Parliament, were some in- 
trusive alien power, whereas it is nothing but the highest 
expression of the national will. On the other hand, it is 
quite possible to ignore unduly the danger of a narrow edu- 
cational policy being stereotyped by a Council exclusively 
composed of Educationists, that is, producers of education, 
and hardly representing the public at large, that is, consumers 
of education. Most of the reforms in National Education 
effected during the last thirty years have, in fact, been 
originated by public opinion rather than by schoolmasters ; 
but had public opinion been left to operate locally, instead of 
through an imperial Legislature, many of them could never 
have been effected at all. In a word, the reasons for estab- 
lishing, not a Director-General, but a Minister, of National 
Education remain equally strong, whether or not an Educa- 
tional Council be also established, and would become all the 
stronger, the greater the authority to be vested in such a 
Council. If there is to be educational centralisation, the 
ultimate control of it must surely rest with the nation itself. 

But no difference of opinion as to the selection of means 
or agencies must be allowed to obscure our perception of the 
great end to be realised. To organise National Education in 
such a sense that no wheel in its mechanism shall fail to play 


freely, and that none shall work to waste, that every endowed 
or State-aided school and college shall have a definite function 
assigned to it, that even private teachers shall be encouraged 
to feel themselves engaged in a public service as trainers of 
citizens, and that a new sentiment of intellectual sympathy 
among Englishmen shall call forth anew sentiment of national 
brotherhood in England, as it did m ancient Greece, and as 
it has in Germany — such appears to be the educational 
mission of this generation. Three centuries have elapsed 
since the Eenaissance and the Eeformation gave a more 
powerful impulse to National Education in this country than 
any which it has since received. The subsequent growth of 
the nation in numbers, in resources, in commercial enterprise, 
and in the range of its political responsibilities, has far out- 
stripped its educational growth ; and the vast disparity of 
educational training between class and class has assuredly 
concurred with other causes to produce the essentially modern 
separation of English society into 'horizontal layers,' corre- 
sponding too closely with degrees of wealth. There can be no 
solid national unity, if there is no community of ideas and 
culture between various sections of the nation. There can be 
no approach to social equality, where the difference of tastes, 
interests, and refinement is so great as it now is between 
gentlefolks and tradespeople — between the employers of labour 
and the wage-earning multitude. There is no power capable 
of checking the portentous advance of plutocracy in this age, 
except the power of aristocracy, as Plato conceived it — the 
aristocracy, not of parentage, but of education. He who 
shall have contributed, however feebly, in his day and genera- 
tion to overcome the disuniting influences of caste and class- 
distmctions by the cementing influences of National Education, 
will not have lived or laboured in vain. 






The last chapter of Irish History opens with the Irish Church 
Act of 1869, and the Irish Land Act of 1870. For nearly seventy 
years after the Union, Ireland had been governed by the 
Imperial Legislature with a sincere desire to promote the 
welfare of the people, but upon essentially English principles, 
and with little respect for Irish sentiment. Select Committees 
were appointed by the House of Commons in 1819 and in 
1823, to inquire into the condition of the labouring poor in 
Ireland ; and in 1825 a similar committee, appointed by the 
House of Lords, took valuable evidence on the relations be- 
tween Irish landlords and tenants. Still, nothing practical 
was done to redress the abuses of Irish land tenure, and wide- 
spread distress prevailed, when the long period of comparative 
tranquillity which had succeeded the rebellion of 1798 was 
broken at last by the Clare election. The immediate conse- 
quence of this event, demonstrating the wonderful power of 
O'Connell, was the Emancipation Act of 1829. In the mean- 
time, however, agrarian disturbances had been constantly rife, 
and the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended for ten or 
eleven years out of twenty-nine. Eoman Catholic Emanci- 
pation failed to produce the remedial effects which had been 
expected of it ; distress, outrages, and coercion still followed 
each other in regular succession, and when Mr. Sharman 
Crawford introduced his first Tenant-right Bill in 1835, the 
state of the Irish peasantry was as hopeless as ever. It 
remained equally hopeless when the Eeport of the Devon 
Commission appeared, ten years later, containing the most 

' This article was published after the rejection of Mr. Forster's Compensa- 
tion for Disturbance Bill, and before the Report of Lord Bessborough's 


exhaustive collection of information on the agrarian state of 
Ireland that has yet been laid before the public. 
' It is needless to say that all the Bills founded on this 
Eeport proved no less abortive than Mr. Sharman Crawford's 
original Tenant-right Bill, and that no important reform of 
the Irish Land System was effected before the year 1870, with 
the single exception of Lord Cardwell's Act, passed in 1860. 
That Act has been persistently misrepresented as dictated 
by an exclusive partiality for the interests of landlords. In 
reality, while it declared the relation of landlord and tenant to 
be founded on contract, express or implied, and not on tenure, 
it contained several provisions in favour of tenants' interests. 
For instance, it gave every tenant a right to removable fixtures 
erected by himself, so long as they should not be erected con- 
trary to any agreement, and disabled landlords from recovering 
by distress more than the rent of the last preceding' year. 
But it did not grapple, or profess to grapple, with that inse- 
curity of tenure which all impartial authorities, from Edmund 
Spenser downwards, had recognised as the master evil of the 
Irish Land System. Until 1870, it might truly be said that 
the Imperial Parliament, largely composed of landlords, had re- 
jected every definite proposal for the abatement of this evil, 
and had apparently accepted the shallow aphorism attributed 
to Lord Palmerston, that tenant-right means landlord-wrong. 
On the other hand, it would be utterly unjust to describe the 
government of Ireland during the first sixty-eight years of 
the present century as oppressive, or to ignore the many 
beneficent and enlightened measures passed by the Imperial 
Parliament for the good of Ireland. By the National System 
of Education, the ultimate source of power, both moral and 
political, was brought within the reach of the people. By 
the Tithe Commutation Act, the worst grievances arising from 
the Church Establishment were abated. By the Poor Law, 
afterwards amended so as to make half the rates payable by 
landlords, an universal right to indoor relief was established, 
which saved the lives of myriads during the Great Famine. 
Had this right been extended to outdoor relief, half the nation 


would have been on the rates ; but the Evicted Tenantry Act 
of 1848, still in force, enabled temporary provision to be made 
for homeless paupers, without bringing them into the work- 
house. By vai-ious Acts, nearly twenty millions sterling was 
advanced for public works in Ireland, out of the Exchequer, 
and nearly one-thu-d of this sum was remitted. By the 
Encumbered Estates Act, millions of acres were rescued from 
the hands of embarrassed and broken-down proprietors, to 
be placed in those of purchasers, mostly Irishmen, who, it 
was hoped, might become resident and improving landlords. 
There is no reason whatever to suppose that a native Parlia- 
ment would have done more for the benefit of the country, and 
much reason to doubt whether it could have maintained 
the peace of the country. Nor must it be forgotten that for 
some years remedial legislation was arrested by the Eepeal 
agitation, and the revolutionary movement of the Young Ire- 
land party. But for such interruptions, checking the symj^athy 
of Englishmen and Scotchmen with the distress of Irish 
peasants, the list of Irish reforms would assuredly have been 
longer, and the great measures of 1869 and 1870 would pro- 
bably have been carried much earlier. 

These measures have been described by Dr. W. N. Hancock, 
the eminent Irish statist, as ' surpassing in their benefits what 
the Roman Catholics would have gained under King William's 
Treaty of Limerick, if Parliament had carried out that treaty ; 
or what Pitt would have conferred on Ireland after the Union, 
if King George III. had allowed him to fulfil his pledges.' 
The Parliament of 1868 had been elected upon a pledge of 
' Justice to Ireland,' and manfully addressed itself to fulfil its 
task — not indeed ' according to Irish ideas,' but from an Irish 
point of view, and with a single-minded regard for Irish in- 
terests. It is the less necessary to dwell on the Irish Church 
Act, because it was tacitly accepted by Irish Catholics as a 
complete legislative surrender of Protestant ascendancy, and 
because Irish Protestants, while they absolutely condemned 
that surrender, have never disputed the liberality of the 
principles upon which the process of disendowment was con- 


ducted. With a lew slight exceptions, perfect rehgious equality 
may now be said to prevail in Ireland, and, if the Eoman 
Catholics still labour under the constructive operation of one 
or two disabling statutes not yet repealed, they enjoy infinitely 
greater liberty than is allowed them in France or Germany. 
Upon the whole, the policy of the Church Act has been justi- 
fied by success. It is true that it called forth quite as little 
gratitude as the Tithe Commutation Act, and was far less 
efficacious in securing the loyalty of the Eoman Catholic 
priesthood than 'concurrent endowment,' without disestab- 
lishment, might probably have been. Still, it levelled the one 
standing trophy of English supremacy in Ireland, and the one 
visible apple of sectarian discord. Protestantism has suffered 
little by the withdrawal of State patronage, Catholicism has ' 
become somewhat less aggressive, and the mutual animosities 
of Irishmen turn somewhat less on religious antipathies than 
formerly. The results of the Land Act, on the contrary, 
must be profoundly disappointing to its authors. Neverthe- 
less, it was prepared with the most elaborate care, after a 
thorough investigation of the problem to be solved, and a 
patient comparison of all the schemes that had been pro- 
pounded for its solution during the twenty-five years since the 
appearance of the Devon Commission Eeport. The publica- 
tions of Mr. Butt alone on ' "Fixity of Tenure ' are far more 
instructive and suggestive than all the speeches that have yet 
been made by the leaders of the present Land League, and 
the literary discussion that preceded the Land Act of 1870 was 
probably more voluminous, as it was certainly more worthy of 
preservation, than has been produced by the recent agitation. 
It may therefore be well to analyse briefly the main provi- 
sions of that measure, before proceeding to consider its opera- 
tion, and the contemporary events of Irish history, during 
the last decade. 

The Irish Land Act of 1870 was founded, in its con- 
ception, on a sound basis. Its framers clearly perceived that 
no mere reversal of the legal presumption applicable to im- 
provements could satisfy either the equity or the exigency of 




the case, since the mass of Irish tenant-farmers were not the 
creatures of contract at all, but the survival of an ancient and 
genuine, though disinherited, peasantry. They recognised 
the absurdity and the injustice of extending the Ulster custom, 
on the faith of which existing tenants had paid large sums of 
money, to provinces or districts in which existing tenants had 
taken farms without paying a penny. They deliberately re- 
jected both the fixity of tenure, in the form of sixty -three-year 
leases, originally advocated by Mr. Butt, and the perpetuity of 
tenure for which he afterwards pleaded with equal versatilitj'. 
Their efforts were directed, and wisely directed, to reconcile the 
rights of landlords with those of tenants, by giving the latter 
security of tenure without reducing the former to receivers 
of a fixed ground-rent, and by enabling willing tenants to 
purchase from willing landlords the fee-simple of their farms, 
upon favourable terms and reasonable conditions. 

The first part of the Act, dealing with the occupation of 
afiricultiiral land, recognised the existence of two agrarian con- 
stitutions in Ireland. It affirmed, for the first time, the valid- 
ity of the Ulster tenant-right on all estates, whether in or out 
of Ulster, which could be proved to have been subject to it. 
The limits of the custom on each estate were left to judicial 
interpretation, so that ' ofiice rules ' fixing a maximum for the 
price of tenant-right would come as legitimately within the 
cognisance of the court as the tenant-right itself. But it per- 
mitted any tenant, at his own discretion, to forego his privi- 
leges under Ulster tenant-right and claim the rights granted 
to all Irish tenants outside its sphere. These rights were 
never laid down in the Act with logical precision, but were 
rather left to be inferred from the joint operation of its various 
clauses. It did not purport to overrule the established doc- 
trine of English law, that land is the sole property of the 
landlord, and that no tenant, as distinct from a copyholder, 
has any proprietary interest in it whatever. Had it done so, it 
would have directly confiscated a part of the interests recently 
purchased in the Landed Estates Court, under the solemn 
guarantee of the State— not to speak of interests belonging to 


hereditary owners. At the same thne, it directly gave tenants 
what must be called a beneficial right of occupation, by impos- 
ing on the rightful owner a penalty for ' disturbance,' varymg 
inversely with the value of the holding, in addition to all 
claims for improvements. Mr. Eichey, in his admirable trea- 
tise on the Irish Land Laws, describes this provision as ' an 
enactment whereby the amusement of evicting tenants was 
made the monopoly of the wealthier proprietors.' It may 
equally be described as an enactment for encouraging the con- 
solidation of farms upon the death of small tenants, for it is 
manifestly the interest of a landlord to escape the liability to 
compensation on the highest scale. Thus, whereas a tenant 
holding a farm under 101. on the Government valuation may 
obtain a maximum of seven years' rent for disturbance, a 
tenant whose farm is valued above lOOL can obtain only one 
year's rent. By converting ten small farms into one large 
farm, a landlord may therefore reduce a liability of 700/. or 
upwards to little more than 1001., with the further advantage 
of collecting his rent more easily. 

It is superfluous to dwell on the minor checks and qualifi- 
cations by which this part of the Act is fenced and guarded. 
But it is essential to notice several clauses by which the con- 
flicting principle of contract was reimported into the new 
agrarian code. It was expressly provided that a lease for 
thirty-one years or upwards should defeat a tenant's claim to 
compensation for disturbance, though not his presumptive 
claim to compensation for improvements of a permanent cha- 
racter. Again, it was provided that any tenant, whose holdings 
were valued above 501. a year, might contract himself out of 
the Act altogether, both as to compensation for disturbance 
and compensation for improvements. Under the so-called 
Equities Clause, which applies to Ulster also, the judge was 
empowered, in all cases, to entertain all considerations which 
can properly affect the assessment of damages, and especially 
the conduct of the tenant himself. Under other clauses, which 
do not apply to Ulster, non-payment of rent, or certain posi- 
tive breaches of covenant, were made a conclusive bar to any 



claim for disturbance, with an exception in favour of holdings 
valued at 15Z. or under, if the court should deem the rent ex- 
orbitant. The scope of this clause, as originally i^roposed, 
was much wider. Even as limited by an amendment carried 
in the House of Lords, it introduced into the law of Ireland 
the pregnant idea of fixing rents by a Government valuation, 
and, so far, countenanced one article of the new charter pro- 
claimed by the Land League. 

The provisions designed to facilitate the creation of a peasant 
proprietary, and known generally as the ' Bright clauses " of 
the Land Act, embodied two distinct schemes. The one merely 
enabled the machinery of the Landed Estates Court to be em- 
ployed by tenants contracting with their landlords for the 
purchase of the fee simple for their holdings. This scheme 
proved almost abortive, not only by reason of the difSculties 
always involved in selling estates under settlement, but also 
because the court seldom found it possible to sanction these 
arrangements between landlords and tenants without injury 
to incumbrancers or reversioners. The other scheme enabled 
the Board of Works to advance sums, not exceeding two-thirds 
of the whole purchase-money, to any tenant desirmg to pur- 
chase his own holding on an estate put up for sale in the 
Landed Estates Court. This advance was to be repaid by an 
annuity, at the rate of 5 per cent., to continue for thirty-five 
years. The court was expressly empowered, indeed, to encou- 
rage such transactions by selling the estate in several lots, or 
otherwise, so far as might be consistent with the interests of 
the parties concerned ; but few tenants availed themselves of 
the privilege. One explanation of this fact is that more liberal 
terms of pre-emption, in respect both of jirice and of advance, 
had already been offered by the Church Act to occupying 
tenants of glebe lands. But another explanation is assiiredly 
to be found in the greater security of tenure guaranteed to 
Irish tenants by the Land Act itself, and in the hope of ulte- 
rior confiscation, sedulously propagated among them by 
popular agitators and the Nationalist press. 

If we now review the pohcy and operation of the Irisli 


Land Act, calmly and dispassionately, by the light of ten 
years' experience, we cannot hesitate to pronounce it a failure 
politically, and a very partial success economically. While 
some recent writers, including Lord Sherbrooke, ignore it alto- 
gether, Mr. Barry O'Brien goes out of his way to avow his 
belief that it was never expected by its framers to be a final 
settlement of the Irish Land Question. This belief will be 
shared by no one conversant with the history of the measure ; 
but all may now discern, what some discerned in 1870, that 
it contained in itself the seeds of inevitable miscarriage. The 
one grand rule which should have governed its construction 
was the necessity of drawing a broad and deep line between 
past and future claims. Considering the origin and growth 
of the Irish Land System, the long neglect of their primary 
duties by too many Irish landlords, the value added to the 
soil by the labour of Irish tenants, the predominance of cus- 
tom over contract in the rural economy of Ireland, and the 
variety of equitable and imperfect rights which had sprung up 
out of all these circumstances, it was highly expedient, and no 
more than just, to award a liberal retrospective compensation 
for past claims of tenant-right. But it was a perilous, and 
has proved a ruinous, mistake to perpetuate the existence of 
such claims in the future. Three centuries ago Edmund 
Spenser recommended that a commission should be issued, 
' to inquire throughout all Ireland, beginning with one county 
first and so resting till the same were settled, by the verdict 
of a sound and substantial jury, how every man holdeth his 
land, of whom, and by what tenure ; so that every one should 
be admitted to show and exhibit what right he hath, or by 
what services he holdeth his land.' This suggestion, it is 
true, was not made in the interest of Irish tenants, but it was 
made with a distinct view to substituting a system of tenure 
by contract for that of tenure by status, and it would not be 
unworthy of consideration, even at this eleventh hour, if the 
object were to close accounts with the past and to make a new 
departure for the future upon the footing of contract. Un- 
happily, this object was not kept steadily before themselves by 


the framers of the Irish Land Act. They desired, it is true, 
to encourage leases for thirty-one years ; but they did not hold 
out to landlords or tenants adequate inducements for insisting 
upon leasehold tenure, or arm the courts with power to exert 
any effective pressure in this direction. By giving every tenant 
a claim to compensation for disturbance, they propped up the 
loose and unstable system of yearly tenancy, and created new 
facilities of borrowing, which have been grossly abused, and 
which have largely contributed to bring about the present 
crisis. By leaving the landlord an indefinite right of raising the 
rent, and by making non-payment of rent a bar to a tenant's 
claim (except in the case of very small holdings), they paved 
the way for an anti-rent crusade, which has already assumed 
most formidable proportions, and which Lord Beaconsfield de- 
serves the credit of having very clearly predicted. By placing 
Ulster customs in a category by themselves, instead of bring- 
ing them within the control of a comprehensive law, they 
established a mischievous duahsm, which has borne evil fruit, 
tempting either class of tenants to covet the rights without the 
correlative duties of the other class. In short, the intended 
settlement of Irish land tenure by the Act of 1870 has, in 
effect, left it more unsettled than ever. In spite of the assur- 
ances freely given by its promoters, it undermined, and could 
not but undermijie, the ideas of property consecrated by the 
law of England, and theretofore respected, though not without 
protest, by the Irish peasantry. But it did not satisfy, and 
could not satisfy, the craving of the Irish peasantry for the 
undisturbed possession of their holdings, subject to a rent, if 
possible fixed, but at all events not variable at the discretion 
of their landlords. No gift of prophecy was needed to foresee 
that it would be followed by communistic demands for a more 
wholesale transfer of proprietary rights from Irish landlords 
to Irish tenants. But the precise form which these demands 
would take, and the rapid conversion of English minds to wild 
theories hitherto unknown to jurists or economists, could not 
have been foreseen, and may well startle foreign students of 
political life in England. 


At first, however, and up to the early part of 1879, the 
practical result of the Irish Land Act was not wholly unsatis- 
factory. In the year 1872 a Select Committee was appointed 
by the House of Lords to investigate various charges which 
had been brought against the judicial administration of the 
new law. The Eeport of this Committee was, on the whole, 
favourable, and for a while it appeared that the Act had done 
little more than compel bad landlords to imitate the practice 
of good landlords. Under the influence of prosperous seasons 
rents had an upward tendency, and were regularly paid ; land 
commanded as high a price in the market as before ; and little 
was heard of complaints on the part of the tenants, except in 
Ulster, where the largest concessions to customary tenant-right 
had been made. Nevertheless, a profound, though unseen, 
change was really passing over the relations between Irish 
landlords and tenants, doubtless accelerated by the influence 
of the Ballot Act. Whatever remained of the old feudal land 
tenure had been ruthlessly swept away by the Act of 1860, 
which professed to establish absolute free trade in land, and, 
in a purely legal sense, the Act of 1870 was a partial relapse 
towards an older and less perfect type. But the Act of 1870, 
in a social and political sense, was a far more defeudalising 
measure than its predecessor. It utterly destroyed all senti- 
ments of family allegiance or personal loyalty among Irish 
tenants, and absolved Irish landlords from all claims upon 
their sympathy and generosity. Though a tenant's position 
remained ostensibly the same until he was served by his land- 
lord with a process of ejectment, and though no very great 
number of processes were actually served, the idea of eject- 
ment has never thenceforward been absent from the mind of 
either, and the lawyer has been in constant requisition for 
private consultation at home as well as in the agent's office. 
Since their rights have been strictly confined and seriously 
curtailed by the Legislature, the landlords have not felt bound 
to abstain from exercising them, and tenants have seldom 
lost an opportunity of pushing their new powers to extremes, 
generally falling back on ad misericardiam appeals, when they 


found the law against them. Money-lenders, of course, have 
done their best to utilise the qualified security of tenure granted 
by the Act, and credit has been given by shopkeepers and 
banks to farmers who, but for this, would have been unable to 
borrow a shilling. When the bad seasons of 1878 and 1879 
impoverished the weakest members of this class, all their cre- 
ditors, except their landlords, pressed for immediate payment, 
and, however great the forbearance of the landlord, he was de- 
nounced as a robber if he claimed more than a fraction of his 
rent. But in the five or six preceding years, the landlord's 
right to his full rent, which had been as vigorously maintained 
by Mr. Butt as it was emphatically reserved by the Act, seemed 
to be freely and honestly respected by the great body of Irish 

Yet it cannot be said that, even during this comparatively 
ho2:)eful interval, Ireland had rest from her ancient curse 
of agrarian and political conspiracy. A rapid glance at the 
chronicle of the decade, beginning with 1870, will suffice to 
dispel the illusion that redress of grievances, without coercion, 
produced contentment and peace among the Irish people. On 
the contrary, there is too much force in the remark of a con- 
temporary writer, that ' the first effects of the stirring of the 
stagnant slough of Irish despond by the dredge of legislation 
had been to bring all the mud and refuse to the surface at 
once.' Fenianism had almost died out ; but Lord Cairns, 
speaking in 1870, proved by statistics that agrarian outrages 
had suddenly increased to an alarming extent in 1869, the 
year of the Irish Church Act, including fifty-nine offences of 
the worst kind, and no less than eighteen assassinations. At 
the end of that year fresh troops were despatched to Ireland, 
and in the course of 1870 the country became more settled ; 
but the improvement was not due to concession. In 1870 it 
was thought necessary to pass the Peace Preservation Act, 
and Mr. Fortescue, in proposing it on March 17, declared 
that agrarian crime had been more rife in Ireland during the 
preceding fourteen months than at any time since the year 
1852. In the next year (1871), Parliament not only decided 

a 2 


to renew the Act for two years, but, on the recommendation 
of a very strong Committee, passed the far more stringent 
Westmeath Act, whereby the Habeas Corpus Act was sus- 
pended in that county and certain adjoining districts, for the 
same period of two years. The immediate consequence of 
this measure was the disappearance of several miscreants 
who had been the arch-directors of assassination, the sum- 
mary arrest of a few others, and the collapse of terrorism. 
In 1872 Ireland was happy in the dulness of its annals, and 
its peaceable inhabitants breathed freely under the salutary 
protection of two .Coercion Acts. In 1873 the agitation for 
' Home Rule,' at first called ' Federalism,' began to grow 
more active ; and both these Acts were again continued for 
two more years. As for the rejection of the Irish University 
Bill, which had so important an effect on English politics in 
that year, it was probably regarded by the Irish millions with as 
little concern as the failure of Sir C. O'Loghlen to obtain for 
Roman Catholics a complete relief from disabilities in respect 
of endowments, or the constitution of an Irish Local Govern- 
ment Board. Measures of this kind have a real interest for 
thoughtful and far-sighted men, and may ultimately come to 
be appreciated by the Ireland of the future. But no adminis- 
trative reforms, except those which strengthen the hands of 
Government, can go far to pacify the Ireland of the present, 
and the political creed of an Irish peasaiit begins and ends 
with a passionate assertion of his agrarian rights. 

After the General Election of 1874, Mr. Butt introduced 
his resolution in favour of Home Rule, and supported it with 
a speech in which he bluntly repudiated the obligation of 
political gratitude, alleging that Irish questions were never 
taken up by English statesmen except for the sake of party 
ends. Mr. Butt, however, was too sound a lawyer, and too 
much a Conservative at heart, to conduct a socialistic revolu- 
tion. So long as the Home Rule Party remained under his 
guidance, its avowed aims were kept within safe limits ; and 
even his Land Bill of 1876, though it reflected the more 
exorbitant demands of his followers, was not entirely incon- 


sistent with the principles adopted in 1870. This moderation 
was fatal to his control over the Home Eule movement, as 
O'Connell's refusal to defy the law had been fatal to his 
control over the Young Ireland movement. In 1876 his 
ascendancy was rudely challenged by Mr. Smyth, an old 
Eepealer, and two years later, after vain protests against the 
new tactics of Parliamentary Obstruction, he finally resigned 
the Home Eule leadership, and shortly afterwards died. 
Meanwhile events had marched rapidly, and Ireland presented 
a very different aspect after the General Election of 1880 from 
that which it had worn six years earlier. 

Perhaps 1875 may be taken as the calmest year in this 
period, and the ' Times ' correspondent was emboldened to 
state that never before had Ireland ' appeared more tranquil, 
more free from crime, more prosperous and contented.' 
Some naturally welcomed this happy condition as the fruit of 
remedial legislation ; others surmised that it might be due to 
a belief that a Tory Government would not trifle with rebel- 
lion or anarchy. But it is at least significant that in this 
year the Peace Preservation Act was renewed, with some 
modifications, for a further term of five years, after a decisive 
speech from Lord Hartington, in which he pouited out that 
fi-om two hundred to three hundred agrarian outrages had 
been perpetrated in each of the three preceding years. The 
Westmeath Act was renewed at the same time for two years. 
The experiment of governing Ireland without stringent 
measures of coercion had not been tried since 1869, and was 
not to be tried again until 1880. The year 1876 passed off 
quietly, but it is probable that the summary rejection of two 
Irish Bills for the reform of the parliamentary and municipal 
franchise, as well as of the Sunday Closing Bill, may have 
contributed to strengthen the extreme section of the Home 
Eule Party. At all events, in 1877, a system of organised 
obstruction was commenced in the House of Commons, with 
the acknowledged purpose of rendering the legislative union 
of Great Britain and Ireland intolerable. It was somewhat 
mitigated in the next session, until concessions on Inter- 


mediate and University Education could be obtained from the 
late Government ; but the irreconcilable spirit of which it 
was the expression broke out fiercely during the debate on 
Lord Leitrim's murder in 1878, and in 1879 the prevalence 
of agi'icultural distress in Mayo and Galway offered the 
agitators just such an opportunity as they desired. Though 
a Bill for the relief of distress in these and other parts was 
promptly introduced and passed, a grand anti-rent campaign 
was opened in the West by Messrs. Parnell and O'Connor 
Power during the month of June. From that moment 
appeals to the patriotism of Irish farmers have been almost 
superseded by undisguised appeals to their cupidity. The 
contagion of the new propaganda spread like wildfire ; the 
Irish National Convention formed in the autumn was very 
s :>on forgotten ; but all its most dangerous elements were 
absorbed into the Land League, and subscriptions were poured 
in from America to aid in delivering Ireland at once from 
landlordism and from English rule. The untiring efforts of Mr. 
Parnell and his colleagues made themselves powerfully felt 
in the General Election, and if the Home Eule Party here 
and there lost a seat, it soon appeared that its members were far 
better disciplined and far more obedient to political dictation. 
Such was the state of Ireland when Mr. Gladstone assumed 
office with a majority so overwhelming as to make him inde- 
pendent of Irish support. He at once resolved to abandon all 
exceptional safeguards for the maintenance of law and order, 
to fall back on the common law, and to rely on remedial legis- 
lation alone for the pacification of the country. The Peace 
Preservation Act, which the late Government had been in no 
hurry to renew before the General Election, was allowed to 
expire, and it was announced on June 15 that a small Royal 
Commission would be appointed to inquire into the working of 
the Irish Land Act. But Mr. O'Connor Power had already 
introduced a bill to disable or deter landlords from evicting 
tenants or exacting exorbitant rents. He was induced to drop 
this bill on Mr. Forster's undertaking to deal with the alleged 
grievance of small tenants in Mayo, Galway, and elsewhere by 


a clause to be inserted in a new bill for Eelief of Distress in 
Ireland. On second thoughts he preferred to develope the 
promised clause into an independent bill, ' to make a tempo- 
rary provision with respect to compensation for disturbance 
in certain cases of ejectment for non-payment of rents in cer- 
tain parts of Ireland.' 

The history of this ill-starred measure is too fresh in the 
public memory to need more than a cursory recapitulation. 
In proposing it, Mr. Forster was careful to assure the House 
that it was not a concession to the anti-rent agitation, that it 
would operate only over a certain area, for no more than two 
seasons, and that it would mainly affect small tenants with no 
other means of living, of whose necessities, due to bad harvests, 
an unfair advantage might otherwise be taken. But no such 
assurances could avail to conceal the fact that it engrafted 
upon the law the germ of ' fixity of tenure ' and ' fair rents,' 
and no one even moderately acquainted with Ireland believed 
for a moment that it would be possible to curtain in its 
influence within prescribed limits of space or time. The 
germ of ' free sale ' afterwards found its way into the bill, in 
the form of an alternative clause, enabling the defaulting 
tenant to remain in possession, if the court should find that 
reasonable terms had been refused by the landlord, ' without 
the offer of any reasonable alternative.' After undergoing 
infinite modification and amendment in the course of debate, 
the bill passed the Commons, but was thrown out by a 
majority of 282 to 51 in the Lords. It is needless to add that 
much of the disorder that has since prevailed in Ireland has 
been attributed by the one party to its introduction, and by 
the other party to its rejection. 

It is here right to notice an argument advanced in support 
of the bill, which seems to have had considerable weight in 
the Commons, but which is obviously founded on an unsound 
analogy. It was confidently asserted that, under the French 
law, losses arising from a wholesale failure of crops are to be 
shared between landlord and tenant, the inference being that 
in Ireland they ought not to fall exclusively on the latter. 


But the fact is that, by the Code Napoleon, this rule is only 
applicable to yearly tenancies, and only takes effect when the 
■whole, or at least half, of the crop is destroyed by causes 
beyond the farmer's control. In cases of tenancy for more 
than one year, it is expressly provided that extraordinary pro- 
fits shall be set off against extraordinary losses, an account 
being taken of both at the expiration of the lease. Now, it 
has been well pointed out by Mr. Eichey that the whole French 
law of landlord and tenant is founded on rigid and consistent 
principles of contract. ' It is the most complete and equitable 
application of the rules of free trade to the case of the letting 
and hiring of land.' Since the Irish Land Act of 1870, the 
Irish law of landlord and tenant has been founded on very 
different, if not on opposite, principles, the landlord alone 
being subjected to contract, while the tenant is given statut- 
able rights of occupancy and compensation for improvements 
altogether outside his agreement. It would be a strange 
piece of legislation to borrow from the French law a provision 
which implies the absence of any tenant-right, and foist it 
upon an agrarian system in which tenant-right is fully recog- 
nised, even if this were done prospectively. But to indemnify 
against unexpected losses farmers who have obtained their 
holdings at a rent calculated to cover such risks, without 
taking account of unexpected gains, and to do this at the 
landlord's sole expense, would be an act of palpable injustice 
which no English economist would defend, if its true nature 
were understood.' 

Another argument on which much stress was laid, was 
the general disposition of landlords to screw up rents pro- 
gressively, for the very purpose of acquiring the right to 
evict, without compensation, for non-payment. No evidence 
was considered necessary to support this odious charge, for 
the verification or refutation of which we must await the 
Eeport of the Irish Land Commission. The judicial statistics 

' Nor is this all. The Frenc law expressly permits the parties to contract 
themselves out of its provisions, whereas the Irish tenant was to be protected 
against himself by compulsory legislation. 


of 1879, however, furnish some valuable information on the 
actual number of ' ejectments served ' and ' ejectments 
entered ' on the books of the County Courts during that year. 
Hence it appears that, whereas 6,738 County Court eject- 
ments were served in 1877 and 8,381 in 1878, 9,703 were 
served in 1879 ; and that in the ejectments entered there was 
an increase of 2,110 in 1879, following an increase of 1,559 
in 1878, and of 320 in 1877. On the other hand, the number 
of cases actually tried under the Irish Land Act was consider- 
ably less in 1879 than in 1878, amounting to less than one 
in every 1,000 holdings on yearly tenancies. Moreover, the 
County Court ' ejectments executed,' though showing an in- 
crease of 34 per cent., as compared with those for 1878, did 
not exceed 2,670, or between one-third and one-fourth of the 
' ejectments entered.' Almost the whole of the increase was 
due to ejectments for non-payment of rent, and, since the right 
to compensation for disturbance is generally forfeitable on 
non-payment of rent, unless under the Ulster custom, the 
aggregate amount of compensation awarded to tenants in 
Munster, Leinster, and Connaught was much smaller in 1879 
than in the previous year. We also learn from the official 
returns that ' other creditors were no less importunate than 
those connected with land ; ' indeed, ' the number of civil bill 
decrees, or dismisses, unconnected with ejectments, executed 
by sheriffs or special bailiffs, increased from 21,678 in 1878, 
to 35,091 in 1879, or by 62 per cent.' This pressure from 
creditors bore heavily on the cottier-tenants, care-takers, 
servants, and herdsmen, in the rural districts, but ' there was 
E also great pressure on the labouring-classes in the large and 
■, small towns ; the warrants to special bailiffs against weekly 
BL tenants in towns having increased from 8,862 to 10,549, or 19 
^n)er cent.' The fair inference would seem to be that Irish land- 
lords, who are generally the last creditors to be paid, were 
quite as forbearing as any other creditors. Some of them may 
have seized the opportunity, as in 1848, to clear their lands of 
unprofitable cottier-tenants, but the inquiries of Mr. Tuke 
and others do not bear out the impression that many were 


guilty of SO heartless a policy. There is, indeed, far more 
reason to believe that many well-to-do tenants accepted large 
abatements of rent from impoverished landlords, while they 
were themselves lodging considerable sums of money in the 
banks. Nevertheless, the Eeport of Dr. Hancock on the 
statistics of savings in Ireland shows an aggregate diminution 
of investments in the year ending June 30, 1880, as compared 
with the year ending June 30, 1879, to the extent of 838,000L 
This diminution is chiefly due to a fallmg off of deposits and 
cash balances at Joint Stock Banks, the decrease of deposits 
in Trustees' Savings Banks being fully covered by an increase 
of those in Post Office Savings Banks. 

Nearly five months have now elapsed since the Disturbance 
Bill was thrown out, and the state of Ireland during the 
whole of this period has been such as to recall the worst pas- 
sages of her social history in the present century. No official 
record of the agrarian outrages committed throughout Ireland 
in 1880 has yet been published, but the charge of Mr. Justice 
Fitzgerald to the grand jury for the province of Munster, 
delivered on December 7, contains a deplorable catalogue of 
' extraordinary offences ' committed in that province alone, 
during the preceding four months. This catalogue does not 
profess to be exhaustive, and, so far as regards the county of 
Limerick, it represents only the returns for the preceding six 
weeks. Nevertheless, it includes two murders, sixty-nine cases 
of arson, and 287 cases of threatening letters, generally con- 
taining threats of murder, besides a long array of such cases 
as cattle-maiming, malicious injuries to projierty, firing into 
dwelling-houses, and forcible seizure of premises by armed 
parties. It is well known that December was the worst month 
of the whole year, and, when the full statistics are published, 
it will probably turn out to have produced more agrarian out- 
rages than any month for at least a quarter of a century. 

It is a very poor consolation to know that atrocities were 
even more numerous, and marked, if possible, by greater 
brutality, in the generation before the Great Famine, which 
is sometimes depicted as a Golden Age ; that an average of 


about 3,000 ' extraordinary offences ' were committed in all 
Ireland during a triennial period beginning with 1830, and 
that about eighty of these were homicides. Not only was 
Ireland then more populous, and its population far more 
wretched, but there was no Poor Law, and no popular griev- 
ance except the political disabilities of Catholics had then been 
redressed. Moreover, no mere enumeration of outrages can 
give the faintest conception of the anarchy which has lately 
ruled in Ireland. After the massacre of prisoners, Paris was 
tolerably quiet under the Commune, for the simple reason that 
no man dared to disobey its mandates — Ubi solitudinem 
fnciunt, pacem ajypellant. A similar peace has been established 
in some parts of Ireland. Suits relating to land have almost 
ceased in some of the Civil Bill Courts, and the lawyers have 
actually been engaged in drawing up memorials to the Land 
League Committees which have usurped their place. Process- 
servers and bailiffs have been stoned, ' carded,' and otherwise 
maltreated, until process-serving has ceased ; men, and 
women too, have been tortured for honestly paying their 
rents, until rents are paid by stealth, if at all, and sometimes 
returned by kindly landlords to save the tenant from the 
risk of further barbarities. Sheriffs have actually declined to 
execute ejectment writs, because the ejected tenant would at 
once be reinstated by force. Landlords and agents cannot 
stir out unless fully armed, and some are virtually captives in 
their own houses, where they hold themselves constantly ready 
for a murderous attack. All this is done with almost com- 
plete impunity. The culprits are seldom arrested and tried ; 
they are hardly ever convicted. What Mr. Justice Fitzgerald 
said, ' in calm and measured language,' of Munster, is still 
more true of Connaught : ' In several districts, embracing a 
large portion of the province, true liberty has ceased to exist, 
and intolerable tyranny prevails. Life is not secure, right is 
disregarded, the process of the law cannot be enforced, and 
dishonesty and lawlessness disgrace the land.' In short, a 
perfect Reign of Terror has been established by the Land 
League, against which the Queen's Government appears to be 


powerless, and because its laws are, in general, passively 
obeyed, we are invited, forsooth, to admire its comparative 
moderation in the distribution of its vengeance. • It is essen- 
tially a revival of Whiteboyism, but with an extended sphere 
of action ; for the same practices are employed to settle family 
feuds, disputes between neighbours, and even the claims of 
importunate creditors. Not that lawful authority is ostensibly 
in abeyance. The police are hurried from one point to 
another ; persons demanding protection are not refused it ; 
and detachments of troops are sometimes employed to escort 
bodies of police or to patrol the Queen's highway. Magis- 
trates are reminded by official circulars of all the powers 
which they possess in law, but are utterly unable to exert for 
want of evidence. Yet the emergency has not been deemed 
grave enough to call for exceptional measures of repression ; 
and though Mr. Parnell and some of his colleagues are now at 
last on their trial for conspiracy, they have remained on bail 
for many weeks, out-heroding their former utterances by 
more and more violent declamations. 

Such is the last page in the last chapter of Irish History, 
and it is one of which Englishmen, no less than Irishmen, 
have reason to be heartily ashamed. This is not the place 
to consider whether this agrarian rebellion might not have 
been averted by firm and wise counsels a few months ago ; 
how Pitt, or Peel, or Palmerston would have dealt with it ; 
or how far the difficulties of Mr. Gladstone in now dealing 
with it are aggravated by the imaginary necessity of con- 
ciliating an imaginary section of the Liberal Party, bent on 
crushing landlordism, as Strafford crushed Uberty, in Ireland, 
the better to prosecute their designs against it in England. 
Statesmen have not to dispense retributive justice, but to 
mould national life out of existing facts. However iniquitous 
the means by which the Irish Land Question has again been 
forced upon the attention of Parliament, and whether or not 
the ignorant peasantry of Ireland have been wilfully hounded 
on to crime for this purpose, the duty of Parliament is 
simply to study the problem before it, and to devise, if it be 


possible, a solution which may promote the permanent well- 
being of the country. To propose such a solution is beyond 
the scope of our present inquiry, but it may not be useless to 
indicate certain of the conditions upon the observance of 
which any scheme for an Irish land settlement must now 
depend for its success. 

1. The first of these conditions is the prompt and deter- 
mined restoration of order. It is certain that no other 
Government in Europe, and least of all that of the United 
States, would have tolerated for a month the state of things 
which has lasted and grown worse in Ireland ever since last 
August. If the Constitution did not give them power enough 
to put it down, the Executive would have asked the Legis- 
lature for increased power, or, if that involved too much 
delay, would have put it down by military force on their own 
responsibility, and fallen back on an Act of Indemnity. It 
may be that reasons will be given to justify the marvellous 
longsuffering of Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet, and that posterity 
will hereafter applaud their resolution to weather out the last 
months of 1880 without resort to a Coercion Act. But these 
reasons must be grounded on high State policy, and not on 
party exigencies ; nor will the phrase ' coercion ' impose on 
posterity as easily as it does on some living politicians. If 
the Irish nation were mainly composed of robbers and 
assassins, it might doubtless be treated as a national wrong, 
from an Irish point of view, to defend the minority against 
robbery and assassination. But if the Irish nation is mainly 
composed of peaceable citizens, without the moral courage to 
I resist or denounce a few handfuls of robbers and assassins, 
who are thus enabled to intimidate whole counties, the 
national wrong consists rather in a persistent refusal of 
' coercion.' It has never been alleged that a single innocent 
person was arrested under the Westmeath Act, and the 
incarceration of fourteen guilty persons for a limited period 
sufficed to rid the inhabitants of that region from the 
grinding tyranny of the Riband conspiracy under which they 
had so long groaned. To coerce the guilty is to protect the 


innocent. It was said of old that Irishmen fear the Govern- 
ment no longer than they see it. What they now see is, that 
it is far safer to defy the law than it is to defy the Land 
League ; and until they are convinced of the contrary, the 
stronger power will command their allegiance. 

2. Order having heen restored, the Irish Land Question 
must be reopened, but it will be worse than vain to consult 
Irish ' public opinion ' upon the best method of solving it. 
It is not too much to say that no public opinion, worthy of 
the name, exists in Ireland, and that what passes for such is 
chiefly fabricated by a press which stands alone in Europe for 
scurrilous mendacity. For a trustworthy statement of the 
reasons for departing from the settlement of 1870, we must 
rely almost entirely on the forthcoming Report of the Irish 
Land Commission. When that Eeport has been duly 
weighed, it will soon be perceived that Ireland is no more an 
agricultural unit than England, and that a different solution 
of the Irish Land Question is required for different parts of 
the island. In the west of Connaught, most of the so-called 
tenants are essentially labourers, cultivating little plots on 
which they could not maintain families even if they were 
rent-free, and largely dependent on harvest-wages earned in 
England. To root these cottiers in the soil would be to 
prepare the ground for another famine. Though it may 
possibly be found that some further relaxation of the Poor 
Law might be safely allowed in their favour, and though 
room might be provided for some on reclaimable waste lands, 
common sense points to State-aided emigration as the one 
boon which Parliament can offer the surplus population. 
Again, in the rich grazing districts of Meath, in the eastern 
counties within the bounds of the old English Pale, or along 
some of the great river basins, little alteration of the present 
law is even desired by the farmers, as distinct from their self- 
constituted spokesmen. It is otherwise, no doubt, with the great 
mass of small tenants holding tillage farms, whether in Ulster 
or the other provinces, among whom the demand for the three 
F's is becoming as popular, and for the same reasons, as the 


demand for partial repudiation would be popular among the 
needy taxpayers of a State burdened with a heavy national debt. 
3. The real meaning of the ' three F's ' is not apparent 
until their cumulative operation has been taken into account. 
' Fixity of tenure ' practically exists on thousands of Irish es- 
tates, and especially on those of great absentee noblemen, even 
to the extent of farms descending for generations in the same 
family. ' Fair rents,' as opposed to rack-rents, are not less 
the rule in Ireland than in England, where the competition 
among tenants is never so keen, but where no one ever dis- 
putes the application of supply and demand to agricultural 
tenancies. Nor is it by any means clear why an Irish farmer 
who objects to his rent as too high should not obtain compen- 
sation for his improvements under the Land Act, and take one 
of the many vacant farms in England, which are now to be 
had at something far below a ' fair rent.' ' Free sale ' is al- 
ready recognised in Ulster, subject only to the landlord's veto, 
and no rational advocate of Ulster tenant-right has seriously 
proposed to dispense with that veto. But the cumulative 
operation of the three F's in the sense now formulated by 
Irish land-reformers would be flagrant confiscation. Absolute 
fixity of tenure, combined with absolute freedom of sale, would 
mean that no landlord could get rid of his tenant, but that 
any tenant could get rid of his landlord, and substitute for 
himself a man of straw. An official regulation of rents, com- 
bined with freedom of sale, would mean that a landlord must 
knot get a competition rent for a farm, but that a tenant may 
sell his interest to the highest bidder, though he may have 
been admitted the year before without paying a penny, and 
may pocket in this way all the capital which his successor re- 
quires to work the land. It is needless to follow out these 
consequences further, since it must be evident that a landlord 
whose tenants held under the three F's would cease to be a 
landlord at all. But an official regulation of rents, taken by 
itself, is open to no such fatal objections, though its logical 
corollary would be a State guarantee of the rents thus fixed. 
It may conflict with economical doctrines generally received 


in England, and would be quite out of place in a more 
advanced country than Ireland ; but it would probably be 
welcomed by a majority of Irish landlords, and produce a more 
stable equilibrium in agrarian relations than has resulted from 
the natural play of supply and demand. 

4. It must always be remembered that Irish landlords are 
not only a much smaller body, in proportion to farmers, than 
English landlords, but are also to a very great extent a non- 
resident body. Lists of Irish absentees are no longer published, 
as they sometimes were in the last century, but the small at- 
tendance of county magistrates at petty sessions is a very 
strong proof either of their non-residence or of their indiffer- 
ence to public duty. The judicial statistics for 1879 show 
that on no less than 2,099 occasions only one local magistrate 
attended petty sessions ; and that on 768 occasions the petty 
sessions could not be held for want of even one magistrate. 
Indeed, the Duke of Marlborough called the special attention 
of Irish lord-lieutenants to this subject by a circular of last 
year. Now, the raison d'etre of landlordism is residence. An 
invisible landlord, who neither improves his own estate, nor 
shows a personal interest in his tenants and labourers, nor 
attends to local and county business, is not a landlord who 
would be greatly missed. Probably it is just such a landlord 
who, if fair terms were offered, would be most willing to be 
' bought out ; ' while the more active members of the landlord 
class might prefer to retain their properties, subject to au oiS- 
cial regulation of rents. Nor would the process of buying out 
landlords involve of necessity the substitution of the State in 
that capacity. It is not impossible to imagine a land-settle- 
ment more or less resembling that made in Eussia, under 
which counties or baronies should be empowered to replace the 
expropriated landlords and levy a land-tax in the nature of 
rent. If a scheme of this kind should take effect, it might 
perhaps be found that most of the working bees would be re- 
tained in the hive, and that a gradual migration of the drones 
would come about without violence or injustice. Such a tran- 
sition from landlordism to farmer-proprietorship would be far 


gentler, and attended by much less of social change, in Ireland 
than in England, for Irish farmers are already their own 
masters, for all social purposes, and the civilising influence of 
country gentlemen with their families is little felt in the great 
majority of Irish parishes. At the same time, if this or any 
similar principle be adopted for the solution of the Irish Land 
Question, grave difficulties will inevitably remain — the diffi- 
culty of guarding against the revival of landlordism in a worse 
form under money-lenders and middlemen, the difficulty of 
checking subdivision and consequent over-population, the diffi- 
culty of erecting the existing tenantry into a privileged caste 
without permanently divorcing the labourers from the soil, and 
condemning them to hopeless degradation. These difficulties 
may be ignored by unscrupulous demagogues, but they must 
be overcome by Parliament, and they cannot be overcome in 
the spirit of class-legislation. The rules of political economy 
may be variable, but the laws of justice are eternal. If these 
laws be not maintained in the coming Land Bill, it will but 
usher in a new cycle of agrarian discontent and disturbance, 
instead of enlisting the one great middle class of the Irish 
people on the side of order, and forming the prelude to a 
brighter chapter of Irish History. 



An Address delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, on 
Friday, May 6, 1881. 

I HAVE undertaken to address you to-night on the land systems 
of England and of Ireland, that is, on the distinctive and typi- 
cal features which characterise them among the land systems 
of the world. Such a study is especially interesting at the 
present moment, when radical changes in the Irish land sys- 
tem are actually under the consideration of Parliament, and 
the English land system itself may be said to be on its trial. 
But the rules of this Institution do not permit me to discuss 
English or Irish land questions in the political or controversial 
sense. We are mainly concerned to-night with the past and 
present aspects of the English and Irish land systems ; the 
future development of those land systems rests with the Legis- 
lature, and the members of this Institution have little reason 
to envy their responsibility. 

I. The land systems of England and of Ireland have a 
common historical origin. Modern researches have shown 
that in both countries the earliest form of agrarian constitu- 
tion was a tribal settlement, or village community, represent- 
ing a clan or group of kindred families. It is needless here 
to dwell upon the peculiar and minute rules which governed 
the division and cultivation of land in this primitive society, 
which are still preserved in the so-called ' Brehon Laws ' of 
Ireland. What is important to note is that it left no room for 
that threefold division of burdens and profits between landlords, 
tenant-farmers, and farm labourers, which is the special mark 

' Mr. Gladstone's Land Bill of 1881 had been introduced shortly before. 


of the English rural economy. Every freeman was, in theory, 
his own landlord, his own farmer, and his own labourer, and, 
except serfs or slaves, there were very few persons who did not 
form members of the landed democracy, as it might be properly 
called. But the landowners of that day were not peasant pro- 
prietors, for though each was entitled to a lot of his own, he 
could not be sure of holding the same piece of ground two 
years together ; and there were few, if any, separate enclosures 
for cattle. By slow degrees, however, the principle of individual 
ownership asserted itself. The chief, or strongest member, 
of a clan would obtain larger allotments than others, and at 
last get them severed from the common fields ; at the same 
time he would claim the lion's share of the waste, and at last 
came to treat it as his own property, only subject to rights of 
pasturage and turf-cutting. Meanwhile, other causes were at 
work to undermine the landed democracy, and transform it 
into a landed aristocracy, under which the village community 
became the manor, the greater freeholders became tenants, 
and the lesser freeholders sank into the class of villeins or 
mere labourers. We must not stop to investigate the steps by 
which this remarkable transition was effected. Suffice it to 
say, that it seems to have been completely effected in most 
parts of England before the Norman Conquest, and had been 
partially, if not completely, effected in Ireland, when it passed 
under the rule of Henry II. a century later. 

During the Middle Ages, the land systems of both countries 
were profoundly modified by the introduction of feudal tenures. 
Not that feudal tenures, with all their well-known incidents, 
were substituted all at once for the old national customs by a 
single act of the sovereign power. Even in England more than 
a century elapsed before feudalism was fully established, and 
even then it was subject to important exceptions in Kent and 
elsewhere. As for Ireland, the greater part of the island re- 
mained outside the dominion of English law until the reign of 
Henry VIII. For some little time after the Conquest, an at- 
tempt was made to extend the new institution of judicial assizes 
over the whole country, and Magna Charta was proclaimed 

H 2 


there as promptly as if Ireland had already formed part of an 
United Kingdom. But, in fact, both English law and English 
authority were confined within the boundaries of a few coun- 
ties, thence called the EngUsh Pale. These counties at last 
dwindled down to four, and even here the old Irish customs of 
land tenure, as well as the old Irish manners, had encroached 
more and more upon English customs and land tenures. The 
King of England was not king, but only ' Lord,' of Ireland ; 
but one English army (under Eichard II.) crossed the Irish 
Channel in the course of three or four centuries ; and we know 
from the works of Edmund Spenser and Sir John Davies, that 
all the strange anomalies of tribal ownership survived in vast 
tracts of Ireland up to the end of Elizabeth's reign, and the 
beginning of James I.'s reign. 

Still, the feudal system is the real basis of the English 
and Irish land laws, as they exist at this moment. I must 
assume that my audience is sufficiently acquainted with the 
broad outlines of that system, which ceased to govern the 
whole structure of society after the Reformation, but which 
continued to regulate the land tenures of most European 
countries until after the French Eevolution. In England, it 
is true, it was otherwise. ' Feudal tenures,' in the strict legal 
sense, were abolished here in the reign of Charles II., but, 
perhaps for that very reason, the principles and rules of feu- 
dal law escaped revision here, when they were swept away 
elsewhere, and have left an indelible stamp on the distinctive 
features of the Anglo-Irish land system. 

II. These features are five in number : — (1) The law and 
custom of Primogeniture, governing the descent and owner- 
ship of land. (2) The peculiar nature of family settlements, 
which convert the nominal owner of land into a tenant for 
life, with very limited powers over the estate. (3) The con- 
sequent distribution of landed property among a comparatively 
small and constantly decreasing number of families. (4) The 
direction of cultivation by a class of tenant-farmers, usually 
holding from year to year without the security of a lease. And 
(5) the dependent condition of the agricultural labourers, who 


are mostly hired by the day or the week, and have seldom any 
interest in the soil. It is the combination of these features 
which makes the rural economy of England so entirely unique, 
unlike that of any other European country, and still more un- 
like that of the United States or our own colonies. They are 
often represented as the spontaneous growth of our national 
character and history, coupled with the peculiarities of our 
soil and climate. I think I shall be able to show that such is 
not the fact — that, in reality, they are mainly the result of 
artificial causes, and that it is quite within the province and 
the power of law to remodel— of course gradually — the land 
systems of England and of Ireland. 

1. Let us first glance at the institution of Primogeniture. 
The right of the eldest son to inherit all the land, in case of 
intestacy, was not recognised by Roman law, or by any of the 
primitive codes known to us, such as those of the ancient 
Hindoos, the ancient Germans, the Irish, or the Anglo-Saxon. 
The Saxon rule of descent, as is well known, was that of 
gavelkind, or equal division; nor was it superseded by the 
Norman rule of Primogeniture until about the year 1200. It 
has often been observed that under a charter of Henry I., 
which seems to have continued in force only five years, the 
eldest son did not succeed to all his father's land, but only to 
his ' principal fee,' or the chief of several estates. A very 
similar rule still prevails in the Channel Islands, which are 
virtually a fragment of that Normandy from which England 
was conquered. This was, in fact, the old Norman law, and 
it was only for military reasons that William the Conqueror 
and his successors adopted the strict and absolute law of 
Primogeniture which has now been firmly established in 
England for nearly seven centuries. After a careful study 
of the subject, I am convinced that it is this law of Primo- 
geniture which has produced and kept alive the custom, and 
that it is not the custom which has perpetuated the law. 
Before the law was introduced in England, there is no reason 
to believe that any general custom of Primogeniture existed 
in English families. After the law was swept away in America, 


an equal partition of land became the almost universal custom, 
although American testators enjoy almost the same liberty of 
making wills that is allowed in England. Moreover, in the 
case of personal property, where the law is different in Eng- 
land, the custom is also different, and hardly anyone thinks 
of accumulating all his personalty on one son. Nor must we 
suppose that because the law seldom operates directly, it has 
not a very wide and powerful operation indirectly. When a 
man makes a will, or settlement, he knows very well, or, if he 
does not, his solicitor tells him, that all his land would natu- 
rally go by law to his eldest son, and this knowledge, trans- 
mitted from one generation to another for seven hundred 
years, creates a sentiment or prejudice in favour of Primo- 
geniture which nothing but a reversal of the law will effec- 
tually counteract. No doubt there is much to be said for, 
as well as against. Primogeniture ; but for our present pur- 
pose the important fact is that Primogeniture, founded on 
law and consecrated by custom, is the chief corner-stone of 
the English land system, 

2. But the custom of Primogeniture is far more stringent 
than the law. When land descends to an eldest son, on in- 
testacy, it belongs to him absolutely, and he is free to deal 
with it as he pleases. On the other hand, when it comes to 
him under a will or a settlement, it usually comes to him for 
life only, and must afterwards go to his eldest son, whether 
he pleases or not. This is the consequence of certain legal 
refinements devised in the seventeenth century, whereby it 
is possible for a grandfather to ordain beforehand that his 
eldest grandson, as yet unborn, and who may turn out the 
most worthless or the most exemplary of mankind, shall in- 
herit a particular estate, making his son only a life tenant or 
' limited owner.' Under the older entails of the Middle Ages 
this was impossible, and though similar powers of tying up 
land were acquired by the landed aristocracy in the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries, means were found to defeat 
them, so that in the sixteenth and first half of the seven- 
teenth centuries the ownership of land was far more free than 


it now is. At present, the great mass of land in this country 
is under settlement, and land under settlement is land which 
has not, and perhaps never may have, a real owner. The 
apparent owner of a great family estate is nothing but a 
trustee, and though of late something has been done to give 
him more liberty of action, he is hampered at every turn by 
the necessity of obtaining consents from a number of different 
parties, or perhaps from the Court of Chancery. Suppose 
all these consents to be obtained, he may doubtless improve 
or even sell the property ; but what motive has he to do so, 
when he cannot reap the fruit of the improvements or become 
master of the purchase money ? Indeed, the evils of limited 
ownership are so obvious, especially from an economical point 
of view, that no one would venture to defend it, but that it 
is supposed to keep old family properties from being broken 
up. But then the question arises whether this is altogether 
an advantage. The character of the English gentry and 
aristocracy was formed before limited ownership was known, 
and when estates descended from father to son either in fee 
simple, or under the old rule of entail, which allowed of their 
being instantly converted into fee simple estates. In those 
days, family properties were placed under the guardianship, 
not of conveyancers, but of the families themselves, and the 
nation was content that if they came into the possession of 
degenerate heirs they should be sold and purchased by worthier 
competitors. Even now such cases occur, where a family 
property is ruined by one or two spendthrift limited owners 
in succession. Experience amply shows that, in such cases, 
it generally changes hands for the better, notwithstanding 
the loss of ancestral connection. The new purchaser may be 
comparatively ignorant of country life, but he is not encum- 
bered by rent-charges of indefinite duration, by mortgages con- 
tracted to pay off his father's debts, by dynastic traditions 
of estate-management, by the silly family pride which must 
needs emulate the state of some richer predecessor, by the 
passion for political dictation to which the refusal of leases 
is so frequently due, or by the supposed necessity of satis- 


fying the supposed expectations of the neighbourhood. He 
can provide for his widow and younger children by selling 
off portions of the property, if he pleases, instead of charging 
the estate, and m the meantime he can develope the resources 
of the property, without feeling that he is either compromising 
or unjustly enriching an eldest son. These advantages make 
themselves felt even when the new purchaser is surrounded 
with great settled estates and influenced by the example of 
their possessors. But they might be expected to make them- 
selves far more conspicuously felt if all landowners enjoyed 
the same freedom of disposition. 

8. The inevitable tendency of a land system thus founded 
on Primogeniture, and guarded by family settlements, is to 
prevent the dispersion of land, and to promote its concentra- 
tion in a few hands. Settled estates seldom come into the 
market, and, when they do, the money has generally to be 
reinvested in land ; but there is nothing to prevent a rich 
life-tenant from increasing the size of his property, and this 
is constantly happening. A very large number of farmhouses 
in England are really ancient manor houses, formerly the 
residence of squu'es and yeomen, whose little freeholds have 
been gradually absorbed into the princely territories of the 
landed aristocracy, and whose descendants are settled in the 
neighbouring towns. Of course, we must not forget the 
opposite movement, or counter-migration of retired trades- 
people into the country ; but they seldom take root there ; 
they do not look upon then- villas as homes, they count for 
nothing in a county, and their children are usually reabsorbed 
into the town population. 

Upon the whole, it may be stated with certainty that the 
number of agricultural landowners in England was never so 
small, as the population was never so large, as it now is. It 
would appear from ' Domesday Book ' that in the reign of 
William the Conqueror the soil of England was divided among 
about 170,000 landowners, including more than 100,000 vil- 
leins, as well as above 50,000 freeholders. There is no direct 
mode of estimating the number of landowners between that 



age and our own, but there is a vast body of indirect evidence 
pointing to the Conclusion that in the reign of Elizabeth, for 
instance, petty squires, yeomen, and small freeholders occu- 
pied a much larger space in the community than they do at 
present. Even since the compilation of the ' New Domesday 
Book,' in 1876, there is great difficulty in ascertaining the 
exact actual number of English landowners ; but, after de- 
voting much attention to the subject, with the able assist- 
ance of Mr. John Bateman, I have arrived at an approxi- 
mate result. I believe that, excluding the holders of less 
than one acre, there are now about 150,000 landowners in 
England and Wales, while about 2,250 persons own together 
nearly half the enclosed land in England and Wales. Con- 
sidering that England and Wales now contain a population 
of more than 20,000,000, and did not contain above 2,000,000 
in the reign of William the Conqueror, the proportion of land- 
owners to population is now less than one-tenth of what it 
then was, and, what is still more striking, nearly half of al 
the land belongs to a mere fraction — about 1^ per cent. — of 
all the existing landowners, even excluding those below one 

It would be superfluous to point out the political danger 
involved in this distribution of landed property, which con- 
trasts most strongly with that which exists in foreign coun- 
tries. For instance, in France, before the loss of Alsace and 
Lorraine, there were about 5,000,000 proprietors owning 
about 7^ acres each, on the average ; about 500,000 pro- 
l^rietors, owning 75 acres each, on the average; and about 
50,000 proprietors, owning 750 acres each, on the average. 
In Wiirtemberg, there are some 280,000 peasant owners, with 
less than five acres each, and about 160,000 proprietors of 
estates above five acres. No doubt, this extreme subdivision 
is, to a great extent, the result of the Code Napoleon, under 
which at the death of a proprietor all his land is divided 
equally among his children, except one child's portion, which 
is left at his own disposal. On the other hand, the extreme 
aggregation of land in England is no less the result, and the 


foreseen result, of Primogeniture and settlement. It is not 
merely that, under the law of Primogeniture, a great estate 
•which may have been formed out of many small estates goes 
to one child, instead of being subdivided among several ; nor 
is it only that settlements prevent family estates from being 
diminished, while they do not prevent them being increased. 
It is also that Primogeniture and family settlements have 
created a landed aristocracy under the cold shadow of which 
a true yeomanry, like the old English, cannot flourish. It 
is too much to say that the old yeomen have been crushed out 
by powerful neighbours. Many have sold their patrimonies 
because they were in debt, or because they found that by 
getting a fancy price from some great nobleman or millionaire 
they could improve their incomes and the expectations of 
their families. But it is still more delusive to regard the 
disappearance of the old English yeomanry as the result of 
natural causes beyond the control of law. When it is said 
that land in this country has now become the luxury of the 
rich, and that a poor man would be very foolish to retain 
a few hundred acres when he could make a profit by selling 
them, it is forgotten that in Northern France, Belgium, 
Holland, and elsewhere, land fetches a higher price than in 
England, but that small proprietors do not die out ; on the 
contrary, that they are the highest bidders in the land- 
market. We must, therefore, look beyond the fancy price 
of land for the explanation of the fact that in England the 
body of landowners is getting smaller and smaller. The ex- 
planation is not far to seek. The vast preponderance of great 
landowners has left the yeoman class no place in county 
government or county society. As one yeoman vanishes 
after another, those who survive, feeling themselves more and 
more isolated, and missing the neighbourly fellowship of past 
generations, are drawn insensibly into country towns, until 
at last the rural population of English counties may be said 
to consist of three elements, and three only, landlords, tenant- 
farmers, and labourers. 

4. This leads us to consider the fourth distinctive feature 


of the English land system — the direction of cultivation by a 
class of tenant-farmers usually holding from year to year, 
without the security of a lease. For the great bulk of the 
land in these islands, as is well known, is cultivated, not by 
the owners, but by this intermediate class, numbering between 
500,000 and 600,000 farmers in Great Britain, who hold on 
the average 56 acres each. It is not thus in other countries, 
especially in the most civilised. There, on the contrary, the 
great bulk of the land is cultivated by the owners themselves, 
most of whom may be classed with our agricultural labourers 
rather than with our tenant-farmers, but form a real peasan- 
try of a class well nigh extinct in England. For it was not 
always thus in England itself. Lord Macaulay believes the 
small freeholders, whom he estimates at 160,000, to have 
greatly outnumbered the tenant-farmers in the reign of Charles 
II., and there is good reason to believe that English farms 
were commonly held under lease until the period of the French 
war at the end of the last century. The history of yearly ten- 
ancy is difiBicult to trace, but it is certain that it was very 
much encouraged by the long continuance of ' war prices * 
which made landlords very unwilling to part with the imme- 
diate control of their projserties, and by their desire to main- 
tain political influence over their tenants. The late agricul- 
tural depression has operated in the same direction, inclining 
landlords to keep farms at their disposal until rents improve, 
and inclining tenants to rely on the forbearance of landlords 
under yearly tenancy, rather than ' hang a lease round their 
necks,' as they say. On the other hand, the want of security 
incident to a mere yearly tenancy, and especially the want of 
security for a farmer's improvements, have been very much 
felt and discussed of late. Unhappily, it has not led to a 
revival of leases, but to attempts to bolster up the unstable 
system of yearly tenancy. One of these attempts was embodied 
in the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1875, to extend which is 
the object of two Bills introduced this year. Such measures 
may be described as tending to establish a national system of 
tenant-right, and this would certainly be a great advance on 


mere yearly tenancy, but it would be a very poor substitute 
for leases, and no substitute at all for ownership. 

5. We now come to the fifth distinctive feature of the 
English land system — the dependent condition of the agricul- 
tural labourer. During the Middle Ages, EngUsh labourers, 
whether freemen or serfs, had always been essentially ^easante, 
that is, occupiers of land which they cultivated in spare hours 
for their own benefit, and from which they could not be dis- 
placed, so long as they rendered certain customary services or 
paid their rent. With the growth of the commercial spirit, 
the suppression of monasteries, the general rise of prices, and 
the progress of enclosure, a new era set in, and the poor-law 
of Elizabeth finally transformed the old English peasant into 
the modern English agricultural labourer, who lives on weekly 
wages, never owns land, and seldom holds any beyond a small 
garden or allotment, looking upon the workhouse as his 
natural refuge in old age. Probably he is better housed 
and clothed than his mediaeval ancestor, though it is doubtful 
whether he is better fed, if we take into account the exorbi- 
tant price of meat in these days. But he is certainly less in- 
dependent, and, notwithstanding the spread of education, he 
must still be ranked below a great part of the Continental 
peasantry — not to speak of American farmers — in the scale of 

III. Let us now consider how far these distinctive features 
of the English land system apply to Ireland. 

1, 2. Of course, the law of succession to land and the prac- 
tice of family settlements are the same in both countries, 
though Primogeniture was not established in the Celtic parts 
of Ireland until after the great confiscations of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries. Even now, it is not so deeply 
rooted in Irish as in English popular sentiment. The yeomen 
and small proprietors who still survive in some English coun- 
ties generally 'make eldest sons,' but Irish tenant-farmers, 
who have long been wont to deal with their farms as if they 
were their own, often leave them by will to their widows, and 
usually make a liberal provision out of them for younger sons 
and daughters. 


8. But, however this may be, the landowning class, under 
the operation of Primogeniture and entail, has become even 
smaller in Ireland than in England — smaller, not only abso- 
lutely, but relatively. Speaking broadly, we may say that all 
Ireland is divided among about 20,000 proprietors, and that 
by far the greater part is owned by about 10,000 proprietors, 
of whom most are Protestant and of English descent, while 
many of the largest are absentees. This contrast between 
20,000 or 10,000 owners and more than half a million occu- 
piers, must never be forgotten in a survey of Irish rural eco- 
nomy. It is of course partly the result of conquest and confis- 
cation — great tracts of land haying been allotted to any soldier 
or adventurer willing to settle in the country. It partly arises 
also from the want of trade and manufactures in Ireland, 
which reduces the number of people able and willing to pur- 
chase land, for the purpose of improving their social position. 
But there can be no doubt that it mainly arises from the 
operation of Primogeniture and entail, keeping the ownership 
of Irish land in the hands of men unconnected with Ireland, 
many of whom, if free trade in land had been established, 
would have sold their estates long ago to the occupying tenants. 
This has actually been done under the Irish Church Act, and 
to a less extent under the Irish Land Act of 1870, which have 
added about 5,000 to the number of small Irish proprietors. 
Probably more occupiers would have availed themselves of the 
facilities granted by these Acts, if they had not been taught 
by agitators that, by waiting a little while, they would get the 
land for nothing. 

4. But the greatest distinction between the Irish and 
English land system is in the relation between landlord and 

I tenant, — partly in the laws which regulate it, but mainly in 
the customs and ideas which influence it. Let us briefly notice 
some of the circumstances which have brought about this 
great difference in customs and ideas. 
The greater part of Ireland never adopted feudal institu- 
tions as a whole, and, where they were adopted, the feudal 
lord was not the friend and protector of his tenant, as in Eng- 


land, but was constantly regarded as an alien intruder. Again, 
though the feudal law of landlord and tenant was ultimately 
established in Ireland, it was more favourable to the landlord 
and less favourable to the tenant, than in England. Never- 
theless, for two centuries and a half after the English poor-law 
was established, there was no poor-law in Ireland, so that 
small tenants naturally held on to the land for bare life, having 
no other means of subsistence. 

Meanwhile the respect for property, that is, for the land- 
lord's rights, as distinct from the tenant's, was very much 
weakened by the differences of religion, and by the demoralis- 
ing effect of the penal laws. It was further weakened by the 
fact that so many Irish landlords entirely neglected their 
duties, and left all improvements, including the erection of 
farm buildings, to be executed by their tenants, while they 
contented themselves with receiving their rents. Of course, 
the case was aggravated where the landlord, as often happened, 
was an absentee. No liberality on the part of an agent can 
supply the want of that kindly intercourse between the hall 
and the cottage, which binds classes together in an Enghsh 
village, but of which Irish farmers and labourers have little 
experience. No wonder that Irish tenants should thus grow 
up in the belief that the soil was theirs, and the rent only the 

We cannot do justice to the agrarian movement in Ireland, . 
or appreciate the deeper causes to which it owes its origin, 
without placing ourselves in the position of a representative 
Irish tenant before the Act of 1870, and striving to interpret 
the feelings which underlay his fierce hatred of landlordism, a 
hatred which even the remedial legislation of that year has 
failed to appease. We shall afterwards be far better able to 
appreciate the still more sweeping reforms which are now in 

The representative Irish tenant is not a capitalist farmer 
at all, in the English sense, but rather a cottager holding 
some fifteen or twenty acres of land, including several acres of 
rough pasturage for the cows, of which the poorest Irish family 


generally manages to keep one or two, with very humble pre- 
tension to breed, yet frequently yielding a large supply of milk. 
He was born upon the land which he cultivates, if not in the 
cabin which he inhabits. Sometimes the little farm lies com- 
pactly round its steading ; more often it is scattered about in 
irregular patches, or stretches in a long narrow strip from a 
hillside down towards a stream or marshy bottom. It is tilled 
by the farmer himself, with the aid of his sons or nephews, and 
occasionally of an obliging neighbour, but, in most cases, with- 
out recourse to hired labour. Perhaps his ancestors, in far-off 
times, were entered on the sept-roll as possessors of this very 
plot, which has been tenanted ever since by his family, though 
repeated confiscations may have effaced the memory of its 
superior lords before the last century, and its last purchaser 
may have acquired it under a sale in the Encumbered Estates 
Court. Perhaps it was painfully won from the adjoining waste 
by his father or himself, either in the capacity of a mere 
squatter, or under a verbal arrangement with the agent that 
no rent should be exacted for a certain number of years. 
However this may be, and whether its present occupant in- 
herited it or reclaimed it by his own industry, all that has 
made it a home for him was created by himself or his kindred, 
nor is it possible for him to regard it as the sole property of a 
stranger. Every piece of stonework upon it, from the rude 
homestead to the meanest shed or byre, was erected by him- 
self or his forefathers, every fence or enclosure was made by 
them, every field cleared and roughly drained by them, nor is 
there any visible sign of proprietorship other than his own, 
unless it be the occasional presence of an agent who is chiefly 
known to him as a collector of rent. His rent is not high, it 
is true, being little above the Government valuation, and far 
less than some insolvent and reckless neighbour would under- 
take to pay if the farm were put up for competition. His 
landlord, too, is a kind-hearted man, in his way, never raising 
a tenant's rent twice in one lifetime, and willing to make 
abatements in hard seasons, but seldom resident, and cut off 
from his sympathy by the iron barriers of race and religion. 


The genial influence of a good English squire, who devotes 
himself to county business, takes an interest in the parish 
school, directs his own improvements, and visits his labourers' 
cottages, is something of which he cannot even conceive. No 
one ever threatened him with eviction, or informed him di- 
rectly that in such a case he must not look for compensation. 
The idea of eviction and its consequences, however, is always 
present to his mind. He remembers that, after the great 
famine, scores of little cabins disappeared from the mountain- 
side opposite, and that nothing was ever heard again of their 
former inmates.  It has been reported to him that in the next 
county vast grazing-farms have been formed out of holdings 
like his own, and that the experiment has been financially suc- 
cessful. He read only the other day a paragraph in the news- 
papers advertising for sale just such an estate as his landlord's, 
and describing it as greatly under-rented and suitable for 
pasture. He is aware, indeed, that here and there a good 
landlord, compelled to part with a portion of his property, has 
granted leases beforehand to old tenants, and thereby pro- 
tected their equitable rights against the purchaser. But he 
believes such magnanimity to be very rare, and dares not 
count upon it himself, especially as he is told that since 
tenant-right has come to mean downright confiscation, pro- 
prietors must get their estates so far as possible into their own 
hands. He lives, therefore, from hand to mouth, as his 
fathers lived before him, tilling no more land than he can 
till with one horse and without machinery, never laying out a 
penny that he can help, studiously keeping up the appearance 
of poverty, and hoarding the little profits of his scanty crops 
and butter in an old stocking, till he can lodge them clandes- 
tinely in a bank, not too near, for the marriage portions of 
his daughters. It is vain to assure him that he may safely 
rely on the honour of an individual who may die to-morrow, 
or sell to a Dublin speculator, or be driven into a system of 
rack-renting by the pressure of his creditors. Why, he asks, 
should not the law secure to me an indefeasible right of pos- 
session, so long as I pay a fair rent, if this is what I may 


fairly expect from my landlord's sense of justice ? Why 
should I be left absolutely at his mercy, and my children at 
the mercy of those who may succeed him, if it be admitted 
that it would be an abuse of power to confiscate my improve- 
ments, or even to disturb my occupancy ? ' 

Such was the actual position of a representative Irish 
tenant before the Act of 1870, and such, in spite of the Act, 
is still the sentiment of a representative Irish tenant. For 
while the Act placed a heavy penalty on ' disturbance,' it laid 
no effectual restriction on the increase of rent. Moreover, as 
we are reminded, in the Eeport of Lord Bessborough's Com- 
mission, ' what the aggrieved tenant wants, in nearly all cases, 
is not to be compensated for the loss of his farm, but to be 
continued in its occupancy at a fair rent.' 

5. The case of the Irish labourer has received less atten- 
tion than it deserves. He is somewhat roughly defined, in 
the Eeport of Lord Bessborough's Commission, as ' a farmer 
who is without a farm.' In other words, there is hardly such 
a thing in Ireland as an independent class of agricultural 
labourers. Most of those so described in the Census are small 
farmers working in spare hours, or sons of tenant-farmers, or 
perhaps men who have been turned out of farms for non-pay- 
ment of rent. In the west of Ireland, however, and especially 
in Connaught, there are thousands of cottier-tenants living on 
patches of land incapable of supporting a family, even if they 
were held rent-free, who eke out a livelihood by going over to 
England or Scotland for harvest, and returning with their 
wages, on which they mainly subsist during the winter. The 
misery of these poor creatures who returned empty-handed 
after the bad harvests of 187-8 and 1879, only to find their own 
potato crops destroyed by the blight, was among the main 
causes of the late agrarian agitation in Ireland. The leaders 
of the Land League seized eagerly upon it, and the crusade 

' This description of tlie Irish farmer has been extracted, with little varia- 
tion, from an Essay on the Irish Land Question in 1870, published in Brodrick's 
Political Studies, 1879. 


against rent, first preached in the wilds of Connemara, rapidly 
spread over all Ireland. 

In picturing to ourselves the lot of these cottiers, it is ma- 
terial to observe that, as the poor-law is more strictly admin- 
istered in Ireland, they do not enjoy the same privilege of 
receiving outdoor relief as in most English counties. Now, 
although a ' liberal ' system of outdoor relief is a very doubt- 
ful boon to labourers, since it tends to pauperise them and 
reduce the rate of wages, the refusal of outdoor relief is spe- 
cially hard to bear where regular wages are not always to be 
procured. The old English poor-law was virtually a compen- 
sation for those changes which had depressed the English 
peasant of the Middle Ages into a mere day-labourer. But 
for the poor-law, socialistic ideas would have propagated them- 
selves long ago in the rural districts of England ; and in Ire- 
land, where poor-law relief is only given to able-bodied men 
in the workhouse, such ideas have actually propagated them- 
selves with fearful rapidity. For the evicted cottier in Ireland 
can seldom find work in towns ; his only resource, except the 
workhouse, is emigration — which he considers banishment — 
to England or the United States. 

IV. We have now passed in review, however briefly, the 
distinctive and typical features of the English and Irish land 
systems. I have said that we are not specially concerned 
with their future development, but I cannot forbear to add a 
few words on the conditions which must govern it, and the 
general course which it may be expected to follow. 

Speaking first of England, I desire to express my earnest 
conviction that no reforms of the English land system are 
likely to be permanent or beneficial which are not in harmony 
with the organic and apparently indestructible elements of our 
national character. The new rural economy of England must, 
above all, be essentially and thoroughly English. It cannot 
be modelled upon that of France, or Germany, or Russia, or 
Switzerland, or Italy, or Belgium, or the United States. On 
the other hand, we must beware, once more, of imagining that 
all the distinctive features of the English land system must 



needs be the spontaneous growth of the national character 
and history. We know, on the contrary, that in Saxon times 
the agrarian constitution of England was essentially demo- 
cratic ; that in Norman times ecclesiastics rather than barons 
were the pioneers of agricultural improvement, and the models 
of territorial benevolence ; that in the England of Elizabeth, and 
for two centuries after the Reformation, the lesser gentry and 
yeomanry were the bone and sinew of the landed interest ; 
that the dependent condition of English labourers dates from 
the poor-law, and that of English farmers from a far more 
recent period ; that, in fact, the English land system is not an 
indigenous product of the soil, but an artificial creation of 
feudal lawyers, matured by their successors in the evil days 
after the Eestoration, largely modified by such temporary 
causes as the high prices current during the Great War, and 
afterwards strengthened by a constant flow of population to- 
wards great towns, partly consequent on the operation of the 
land system itself. 

I will not conceal my belief that, before another genera- 
tion has elapsed, the law of Primogeniture will have been 
abolished, that the power of entail will have been largely re- 
stricted, that by these means and by simpler methods of land 
transfer land will come to be divided among a larger number 
of owners, that, by degrees, more landlords will farm their 
own land, and more farmers will own the land which they 
cultivate, that leases will more and more be subfetituted for 
yearly tenancy, and that labourers, no longer divorced from 
the soil, but enabled to rise by industry into the class of 
farmers, will regain the self-respect and providence which are 
the special virtues of a true peasantry. 

V, Let us lastly turn our eyes, once more, to the Irish 
land system, if that can be called a land system which is a 
patchwork of antique customs and modern enactments, plas- 
tered one upon another, with little regard to consistency or 
symmetry. It is not my jiurpose to criticise the policy of the 
new Irish Land Bill ; it may or may not be a necessary sequel 
to the Act of 1870 ; it may be framed in a spirit of justice, or 


it may have been dictated by political expediency. With all 
this we have nothing to do. What mainly concerns us is its 
self-evident tendency to establish a new form of double owner- 
ship, or agrarian partnership between landlord and tenant. 
We sometimes hear the great reforms carried out by Stein 
and Hardenberg in Prussia cited as a precedent for such 
legislation. Exactly the reverse is the fact. The reforms of 
Stein and Hardenberg were directed, and successfully directed, 
to substitute unity of ownership for double ownership — to give 
the peasant the greater part of his former holding as his own 
absolute property; relieved of all vexatious services ; and to 
compensate the landlord for the loss of those services by a 
fixed allotment of land or by a fixed rent. In other words, 
these reforms substituted proprietorship for landlordism and 
tenancy, but left freedom of contract untouched. The reforms 
now proposed for Ireland assume the maintenance of the rela- 
tion between landlord and tenant, but place the regulation of 
it in the hands of a Court, and virtually abolish freedom of 
contract. There is no rashness in predicting that, under such 
circumstances, the relation will be found intolerable, and that 
in the end the same result at which Stein and Hardenberg 
deliberately aimed will be produced by the very opposite pro- 
cess. Either by the aid of facilities provided in the Bill itself, 
or by private agreements, Irish landlords will part with their 
estates in large numbers, and Irish tenants will be the nomi- 
nal purchasers. Whether, having purchased, they will culti- 
vate the land themselves, or convert themselves into squireens, 
whether they will keep out of the hands of money-lenders, 
and whether money-lenders may not become the worst of 
landlords, and whether those who chance to be without land 
just now will tamely acquiesce in their exclusion from the 
privileged caste of irremovable tenants — these are questions 
into which I must not wander. What is certain is that, come 
what may, the experiment of peasant ownership or farmer 
ownership will be tried in Ireland as it has never been tried 

It may be said, with too much reason, that Irish tenants 


as a class have never yet exhibited the far-sighted industry 
which has become traditional and hereditary among French 
or Belgian peasants, and upon which peasant ownership in 
France or Belgium depends for its success. It may be said, 
on the other hand, that Irish tenants are already their own 
masters for most purposes, and that the civilising influence 
of country gentlemen with their families is already little felt 
in the great majority of Irish parishes. The transition from 
landlordism to farmer proprietorship would, therefore, be far 
gentler, and attended by much less of social change, in Ireland 
than in England. Nor must it be forgotten that French 
peasants, as described by Arthur Young a hundred years ago, 
did not differ widely from small Irish farmers in the present 
day. The ' magic of property ' has assuredly worked miracles 
in making them what they now are, and the magic of property 
is likely to be more potent in Ireland than in France, because 
it would place the new proprietor entirely above the influence 
of those agitators who now trade upon his wrongs, real or 
imaginary, and would give him a direct interest in the main- 
tenance of law and order. 

And thus it may come to pass that under the operation of 
different causes — some of them natural and some artificial, 
some in themselves pernicious, and some beneficent — the 
Irish land system may gravitate in the same direction as the 
English land system, and assume a more democratic aspect. 
Considering the history and national character of the Irish 
people, we are not warranted in forecasting with confidence 
the result of such a development. The utmost that we can 
affirm is that it affords a better prospect of a stable equi- 
librium in Ireland than the modern English form of rural 
economy. There is a fine passage in Edmund Spenser's ' View 
of Ireland,' written in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, where he 
supposes one of two friends to suggest various remedies for 
the improvement of Ireland, and puts into the mouth of the 
other the following reply : — • 

' Marry, so there have been divers good plots devised, and 
wise counsels cast already about reformation of that realm ; 


but they say it is the fatal destiny of that land, that no pur- 
poses, whatsoever are meant for her good, will prosper or take 
good effect ; which whether it proceed from the very genius of 
the soil, or influence of the stars, or that Almighty God hath 
not yet appointed the time of her reformation, or that He 
reserveth her in this unquiet state still for some secret scourge 
which shall by her come into England, it is hard to be known 
but yet much to be feared.' 

It would be difficult to exj^ress in language more pathetic 
or appropriate the, anxieties and misgivings which still oppress 
the most hopeful minds in legislating for Ireland, after the 
lapse of three hundred years. But despair can have no place 
in the counsels of statesmen. It cannot be that Ireland is 
eternally doomed either by the genius of her soil, or by the 
influence of the stars, or by the decrees of an inexorable Provi- 
dence, to brood helplessly over her ancient wrongs, an unpro- 
fitable and irreconcilable member of the European family. 
There must surely be a happier and better future reserved for 
her too in the fulness of time, and this future may be expected 
to date from the day on which Parliament shall accomplish, 
— not a provisional and one-sided adjustment, but a compre- 
hensive, just, and permanent settlement, — of the Irish land 



Twelve years have now elapsed since a great measure, 
designed to settle the Irish Land Question for ever, was pre- 
pared by Mr. Gladstone during his first Administration. 
The ground had been cleared for it by the most exhaustive 
inquiries, and the longest series of tentative bills, which had 
ever formed the basis of agrarian legislation in this country. 
The report of the Devon Commission, published just before 
the great Irish famine of 1847, had furnished a most compre- 
hensive body of evidence on the conditions of Irish land- 
tenure, which subsequent investigations, official and unofificial, 
had illustrated rather than superseded. Eight tenant-right 
bills, founded on this report, or those of Parliamentary Com- 
mittees, were introduced by Mr. Sharman Crawford alone ; 
six more were introduced by other private members before 
1858, and several others after that year ; seven more were 
introduced on behalf of Liberal or Conservative Ministries ; 
and one bill, which sometimes bears the name of Lord Card- 
well and sometimes of Lord Justice Deasy, had actually 

I 'passed into law, in the year 1860. The admitted failure of 
Lord Cardwell's Act, which embodied the strict principles of 

.contract, induced the Legislature to import the perilously 
vague idea of tenure by custom into the Anglo-Irish law of 

' landlord and tenant. Though it is now the fashion to ignore 
the Irish Land Act of 1870 almost as completely as that of 

[ 1860, it may not be amiss to remind ourselves of the benefits 

i- which it conferred on the Irish tenant, at the expense of the Irish 

' An Address delivered in the Hail of Merton College, Oxford, on December 
rS, 1881. 


landlord — benefits which no English tenant enjoys, and for 
which no parallel can be found in the agrarian codes of Europe. 
By the Irish Land Act of 1870, Ulster tenant-right, and 
like customs in other parts of Ireland, obtained legal validity. 
It was enacted that all improvements should be i^resumed to 
have been made by the tenant or his predecessors, and com- 
pensation was guaranteed to him, not only for buildings or 
drainage, but for tillages, manures, and crops. Moreover, it 
was provided that he should not forfeit this right, even when 
ejected for non-payment of rent. Irish tenants were further 
endowed, for the first time, not, indeed, with an actual pro- 
perty in their holdings, but with a beneficial right of occu- 
pancy, secured by a heavy fine on disturbance, which might 
amount to seven years' rent. This claim to compensation 
for disturbance, like the claim to compensation for improve- 
ments, was made indefeasible in favour of all tenancies under 
501. valuation, that is to say, in the vast majority of cases to 
which the Act applied. It is true that eviction for non-pay- 
ment of rent was not to be generally construed as ' disturb- 
ance,' but it was expressly declared that even such eviction 
was to be so construed in favour of tenancies under 151. rental, 
' if the Court should certify that the non-payment of rent 
causing the eviction had arisen from the rent being an 
exorbitant rent.' Nor was this all. Where no claim should 
be made for improvements or for disturbance, the tenant was 
still enabled to obtain such compensation as the Court might 
think just, if he or his predecessors in title had given money, 
or money's worth, for the farm, with the landlord's consent, 
either express or implied. Lastly, under the Equities clause, 
the Court was invested with the largest possible discretion 
to review the ' conduct ' of both parties, and to mulct either 
for ' unreasonable conduct, giving judgment on the case with 
regard to all its circumstances.' 

Such was the Act which is now described, especially by 
those who have never studied it, as lamentably deficient in 
liberality towards Irish tenants. It might be alleged, with 
far greater reason, that it placed the Irish tenant in a position 


inconsistent with the fundamental idea of tenancy, and thus 
sowed the seed of further agitation. The course which that 
agitation would inevitably take was clearly foreseen by many, 
and among others by the late Lord Beaconsfield. He pointed 
out that, under the name of compensation for disturbance, 
a proprietary interest worth several years' purchase was 
vested in the Irish tenant, and that since he was made liable 
to forfeit this interest by non-payment of rent, he would not 
long submit to his rent being raised at the pleasure of his 
landlord. The claim to 'fair rent,' as well as to 'fixity of 
tenure,' had been advocated some years earlier, with great 
ability, by Mr. Isaac Butt. In a pamphlet, first published in 
November 1866, he proposed that every agricultural tenant 
in Ireland should be entitled to a lease of his holding for 
sixty-three years, at a rent to be fixed by valuation, on the 
principle of deductmg one-third from the extreme rack-rent 
value. But it is not unworthy of notice that Mr. Butt, a 
sound lawyer and a veteran economist, never contemplated 
the universal concession of ' Free Sale,' and vigorously main- 
tained that non-payment of the rent once fixed, as well as 
failure to cultivate properly and to maintain all improve- 
ments, should be followed by an absolute forfeiture of the 
tenant's interest, ivithout potver of redemption. Looking back 
at the agrarian history of Ireland during the last ten years, 
we may well hold that Mr. Butt's policy was, in the main, 
wiser than that which dictated the measure of 1870. Had 
this policy been adopted, the rental of Ireland would probably 
have been somewhat reduced, on the whole, but it would have 
been secured by the most stringent conditions, and the rela- 
tions between landlord and tenant would have been placed on 
a definite basis for two generations. Moreover, a full share 
of any accidental increase in the value of the land was care- 
fully reserved to landlords by special clauses in Mr. Butt's 
draft bill, which compares most favourably, in respect of 
simplicity, with the Acts both of 1870 and of 1881. 

For several years, however, the Act of 1870 appeared to 
be working smoothly, and to have been accepted as a final 


settlement of the Irish Land Question. And such it might, 
indeed, have proved, with occasional modifications and amend- 
ments, had not the exigencies of Irish partisanship demanded 
a fresh agrarian agitation. Doubtless, the rigorous exaction 
of rents, and eviction of defaulting tenants, by some Irish 
landlords, after the bad seasons of 1878 and 1879, furnished 
a convenient starting-point for such agitation, and, in a few 
cases already tried before the Land Commission, even the 
agent admitted the rents to be excessive. But it is historically 
certain that no .widespread discontent existed until it was 
artificially fomented, and that, as the Duke of Argyll stated, 
for one oppressive landlord it would have been easy to find 
thousands of tenants holding back their rents, though well 
able to pay them, and practising on the forbearance of their 
landlords, before they were taught by the Land League to 
repudiate their own agreements and defy the law. The 
formation of this League was notoriously an after-thought of 
men, with no interest in land, whose primary aim was the 
separation of Ireland from Great Britain, and to whom the 
supposed wrongs of the peasantry were a mere instrument 
for the propagation of Fenian doctrines. The most effectual 
method of counteracting it would have been to institute an 
impartial inquiry into the eifects of the Land Act of 1870; to 
meet temporary distress by temporary measures of relief at 
the national cost ; and to declare that no permanent remedial 
legislation could be attempted until order and tranquillity 
should have been restored. Unhappily, other counsels pre- 
vailed. A Commission was appointed, indeed ; but if it did 
not start with a foregone conclusion in favour of the Three 
F's, its proceedings gave some colour to such an imputation. 
Instead of clearing up on official authority such questions as 
the average proportion between Irish rentals in 1880 and 
Griffith's valuation, the relative value of improvements exe- 
cuted by landlords and improvements executed by tenants, 
the relative numbers of farms held by mere parole agreement 
and of those held under written contract, the Commissioners 
amassed, without digesting, a vast body of evidence on the 


alleged extortions of landlords and land agents. This evidence 
they puhlished together with their own Eei^ort, without even 
waiting for the counter-evidence which they had themselves 
invited, and which, in the opinion of many, cut the ground 
from under several of their main conclusions. Meanwhile a 
bill was introduced, nominally of a provisional nature, but 
really embodying wholly new principles, from which it thence- 
forth became impossible for the Government to recede. This 
bill, called the Disturbance Bill, was rejected by the House of 
Lords. The natural result was what Mr. Healy caUs ' the 
most determined,' and what assuredly was the most unscru- 
pulous, agitation ever known in Ireland, for the purpose of 
forcing the hand of the Government, and intimidating the 
landowners of Ireland into the acceptance of any measure 
which should purport to preserve for them a remnant of their 
former revenues. How far these designs were successful now 
remains to be explained. 


The Irish Land Act, or, as it is officially entitled, ' The 
Land Law Act (Ireland),' of 1881, is probably the most com- 
plicated piece of legal mechanism that has been produced by 
parliamentary draughtsmen within living memory. This is 
its most obvious and least venial demerit. The Act of 1870 
was obscured by a variety of refinements and qualifications 
which had gone far to obstruct its working and enrich the 
lawyers. These have been aggravated and multiplied tenfold 
by the Act of the present year, which does not even repeal 
the former, but expressly incorporates certain parts of it, and 
leaves other parts to operate, as best they may, side by side 
with its own provisions. It would be utterly hopeless to 
follow the process whereby the original bill was evolved into 
its existing shape by amendments from both sides and all 
sections of the House. We can but sketch the leading 
features of the measure as it now stands in the Statute-book. 
And here we may derive considerable assistance from an 
extraordinary document put forth by the Land Commissioners 

124 THE lEISH LAND ACT OF 1881 : 

appointed under the Act itself. These gentlemen, being 
invested with essentially judicial functions, might have been 
expected to adopt a judicial attitude, and to regard themselves 
as charged to administer a new law, with even hand, between 
landlord and tenant. They felt it consistent with their duty, 
however, to issue a statement exclusively addressed to one of 
these parties, detailing all the ' benefits conferred on Irish 
tenant-farmers by the Land Act (Ireland), 1881,' and pointing 
out all the advantages which they may take under the new 
law. This compaentary is but expanded in the valuable 
' Tenant's Key to the Land Law Act, 1881,' drawn up by 
Mr. Healy. Both justly represent the Act to be a legislative 
embodiment of the Three F's, as recommended by the Bess- 
borough Commission, and it may be convenient to review its 
provisions under the heads suggested by the several articles 
of that famous agrarian charter. 

Here followed a detailed analysis of the main provisions of the 
Act, showing that ' Free Sale,' as there defined, goes far beyond 
the Ulster custom ; that ' Fair Eent ' is left to be ascertained by 
the arbitrary discretion of the Commissioners, but on principles 
essentially one-sided; that ' Fixity of Tenure ' is practically granted, 
without the equitable conditions proposed by Mr. Butt ; and that, 
while ' future tenants ' are placed in an inferior position to ' present 
tenants,' they are invested with privileges enjoyed by no other 
tenants in Europe. 

It is, therefore, perfectly idle to suggest that, whereas the 
Act strictly regulates the rights of existing landlords and 
tenants, it paves the way for a revival of free contract in 
future. In reality, free contract, in the English, Scotch, 
American, and Continental sense, is banished for ever from 
agricultural relations in Ireland. The more carefully we 
study the incidental and supplementary provisions of the 
Act, the more clearly shall we realise that it is framed with a 
single view to stereotype the possession of existing tenant- 
farmers, with equally little regard for the interests of land- 
lords, of labourers, or of those who may hereafter wish to 
become possessors of farms. For example, section 8 contains 


a peremptory direction against rent being raised in respect of 
improvements made by tenants or their predecessors in title ; 
but another clause of the section, exempting from its opera- 
tion holdings upon which all the improvements have been 
made by the landlord or his predecessors, is not peremptory, 
but merely permissive. So, the statutory term introduced 
for the first time by the Act is practically a lease for fifteen 
years in favour of the tenant, but not in favour of the land- 
lord, for a lessee is bound to carry out all the agreements 
in his lease, but the holder of the statutory term can surrender 
it, though he cannot be evicted. In like manner, the num- 
berless limitations of landlord's rights under the Act are 
comiiensated by no corresponding facilities for enforcing those 
rights. Even when a tenant has broken the primary statu- 
tory condition by non-payment of rent, the landlord has only 
the ordinary remedy of ejectment. This remedy cannot be 
employed, even to the extent of instituting proceedings, until 
one whole year's rent is in arrear. The defaulting tenant 
can then hold on until execution is imminent with perfect 
impunity, and even after it has taken place, retains his old 
right of redeeming within the next six months, when he will 
recover his statutory tenancy with no penalty except the 
liability to costs. Or he may prefer to sell his tenancy ; 
though in this case the landlord will be entitled to arrears of 
rent and damages for injury actually sustained, out of the 
purchase money. Mr. Healy reminds him, however, that by 
selling just before the ejectment is brought, he can dispose of 
a statutory tenancy subsisting in full vigour, with an unlimited 
right of renewal. A tenant who breaks any other of the five 
statutory conditions must get, in addition, a year's notice to 
quit. But this notice to quit will have no great terrors for 
him, if he can make a plausible excuse. For it is expressly 
provided that he may apply to the Court to be relieved from 
the consequences of any such breach on payment of damages 
and costs ; or without any payment, if the breach is regarded 
as harmless by the Court. At the very worst, a tenant 
evicted for a breach of statutory conditions is entitled to 


compensation for improvements under the Land Act of 1870, 
and, if holding under the Ulster custom, will forfeit none of 
its benefits thereby. 

A like protective spirit, the very reverse of equal justice, 
may be traced in the clauses relating to labourers' cottages, 
and other improvements usually made by landlords. The 
landlord may, indeed, resume the whole or part of a holding 
on satisfying the Court that his object is ' for the good of the 
holding or the estate,' and these words might certainly be 
interpreted in a sense to give him some control over his own 
property. But it is to be feared that they may be construed 
as limited by those which follow, specifying cottage-building, 
church-building, and so forth, as the chief purposes for which 
the power is granted. At all events, the landlord must now 
buy up the tenant-right in order to build labourers' cottages, 
notwithstanding a special provision to the contrary in the 
Act of 1870. But the tenant may let ground for cottages 
and allotments, with the sanction of the Court, at a profitable 
rent, without any such outlay ; and, if required by the Court 
to improve the cottage accommodation of a holding on which 
he seeks to have the rent lowered, he may borrow money from 
the State as if he were an owner. So, again, while tenants 
may impiove their holdings for their own benefit, without the 
landlord's consent, with a legislative guarantee against the 
rent being raised on that account, no landlord can obtain an 
increase of rent upon capital laid out in improvement, except 
by special agreement with his tenant. 

It is to be observed, however, that although very large 
prospective sacrifices are required of Irish landlords, no claim 
to rent already due was taken away by the Act. The fourth 
section plainly declares that ' nothing therein contained shall 
prejudice or affect any ejectment for non-payment of rent 
instituted by a landlord, whether before or after the com- 
mencement of a statutory term, in respect of rent accrued 
due for a holding before the commencement of such term.' 
It would be far better, if it had declared broadly that no 
benefit conferred by it should be open to any tenant who had 


failed to satisfy his lawful debts to his landlord before apply- 
ing to the Court. We may pass lightly over the so-called 
arrears-clause, under which the Land Commission is em- 
powered to advance the landlord a part of the rent in arrear, 
because it can only operate where the landlord is willing to 
accept a composition of so many shillings in the pound. In 
such a case, if a landlord will take a nominal sum in lieu of 
the last year's rent, a tenant whose rent is 151., and is three 
years in arrear, may have the whole 451. wiped off, on con- 
dition of paying a rent of little more than 16Z. during the 
next fifteen years. If the landlord should not be so forbear- 
ing, the tenant, as we have already seen, retains the right of 
getting his rent fixed by the Court, and selling his tenancy 
upon the new rent, however much he may be in arrear with 
the old rent. While his application is pending, the proceed- 
ings in ejectment will be stayed, and if the rent ultimately 
fixed should be a full rent, the purchase money will be all the 
less, and probably not sufiQcient to pay off heavy arrears. 
Still, the Act does not go the length of confiscating arrears, 
and giving fixity of tenure to a tenant who has lawfully in- 
curred the penalty of ejectment before it passed. It would 
be still possible, therefore, for Irish landlords to get rid of 
defaulting tenants before they can become rooted in the soil 
under the Land Act ; though self-interest, as well as more 
generous motives, would usually recommend the alternative 
of making terms with them. And since the small cottier- 
tenants of Connaught are incapable of paying any rent in bad 
years, the one class most deserving of sympathy will hardly 
share the benefit of the Act. 

But a most violent interference with vested interests is 
contained in the twenty-first section. One part of this section 
deprives the landlord of his reversion at the end of an exist- 
ing lease ; another part enacts that if any lessee can satisfy 
the Court that his lease was forced upon him by threat of 
eviction or undue influence, being in itself unreasonable or 
unfair, the Court may quash the lease, and treat the tenant 
as the holder of a present yearly tenancy. That is to say, 


the Court is to review the circumstances under which each 
lease was granted, and determine ' whether it is such as a 
prudent tenant would have accepted unless under some pres- 
sure from his landlord.' If not, it is to become void, and the 
tenant can at once obtain a readjustment of his rent. It is 
needless to remark that, if it should prove to be such as no 
prudent landlord would have granted, and however strongly 
justice may require it to be set aside on his behalf, the Court 
has no power to award such redress. Its action in this, as 
in other cases, is to b6 wholly one-sided. By the next section, 
no tenant whose holding is valued below 150L shall be aUowed 
to contract himself out of this Act or the Act of 1870. The 
right of contract as between landlord and tenant is, there- 
fore, henceforth at an end in Ireland, except as regards a 
very small fraction of tenancies. All the apparent exceptions 
recognised in the Act are perfectly illusory, shice they must 
all come under the control of the Court. 

Hitherto the mode in which the Court has exercised its 
discretion has not been such as to command the confidence of 
impartial critics. But however they may have strained the 
letter, the Commissioners have scarcely gone— for indeed 
they could scarcely go — beyond the spirit of the Act. It was 
certainly a strange proceeding to invite appHcations by a 
notice specially addressed to tenants — but then the Land Act 
itself was passed for the sole benefit of tenants. It is a 
perilous doctrine to lay down that rents should be so adjusted 
that a tenant may ' live and thrive ' on his farm ; but then 
why did the Legislature admit such a phrase as * fair rent ' 
without definition into a statute? Whether or not it was 
reasonable that, under section 60 of the Act, applications 
made on the first occasion when the Land Commission might 
sit should be treated as made on the day when the Act itself 
came into force, it seems monstrous that, having opened their 
sittings on October 20, the Commissioners should have ex- 
tended their so-called first sitting to October 29, and after- 
wards to November 12. But then it was the obvious intention 
of Parliament to stretch every point of equity in favour of the 


tenant, and perhaps the privilege of post-dating his right of 
redemption is trifling compared with some other privileges 
reserved to him. No wonder that if the Commissioners have 
thus interpreted their duties, the Sub-Commissioners should 
have justified wholesale, sweeping, and indiscriminate reduc- 
tions of rent by reasons destructive of each other. Mr. 
Gladstone and Lord Carlingford expressed their conviction that 
Irish rents in general would be very slightly reduced ; but the 
Sub-Commissioners fail to discover this conviction in the Act : 
' they cannot find it ; it is not in the bond.' One rent may 
be reduced because the land has been greatly improved by 
the tenant, who must be rewarded for his energy ; another, 
because it has become impoverished by the tenant's neglect. 
One tenant is entitled to compassion because his family is 
large ; another, because, having no family, he must pay high 
wages to labourers. Eents must, of course, be reduced if 
they have been raised in years of plenty ; but they must also 
be reduced if they have been lowered in years of scarcity and 
remained at that level ; for if the agent thought some remis- 
sion necessary, it must be inferred that humanity required 
a larger remission. The Court is not to consider what the 
land would be worth in good hands, but what it is worth in 
the hands of the actual occupier, perhaps the worst and most 
thriftless of his class. It is not to consider the agreement 
made between landlord and tenant, for no landlord can be 
allowed to profit by superior force or fraud ; still less is it 
to consider the value of concessions made by the landlord 
out of kindness ; for no man, or rather no landlord, can be 
allowed to profit by his own weakness. The owner of 
hereditary estates must not complain of his rent being 
lowered ; for, depend upon it, some remote ancestor came by 
the land unjustly ; and the fact of no increase having been 
made for the last fifty years is a presumption of rents having 
been screwed up for the fifty years before. The purchasers 
of land in the Encumbered Estates Court deserve no con- 
sideration ; for tenant-right was ignored in those purchases, 
and it is now high time to make reprisals on landlord-right. 



Such are no unfair specimens of the reasoning which appears 
to underHe many of the more important decisions aheady 
given by the Sub-Commissioners, and which has occasionally 
found expression in their statements from the Bench. Of 
course these decisions may be overruled on appeal, but the 
Commissioners in DubUn have postponed hearing appeals 
until after they shall have completed the process of breaking 
' unreasonable ' leases. Unhappily, they cannot postpone the 
influence of such judicial acts and opinions over Irish minds 
possessed with the creed of the Land League. Nor have we 
a right to expect that highly popular decisions will be lightly 
overruled by those who administer an Act so evidently framed 
to satisfy the requirements — not of economical justice, but of 
political expediency. 


1, 2. This is not the place to dwell on the portentous and 
demoralising effect of the Land Act, as an avowed concession 
to criminal agitation, directly stimulating the renewal of such 
agitation. Its next effect will be felt in the legislative extinc- 
tion of freedom in the conduct of by far the most important 
industry and social relation in Ireland. Nothing like it has 
yet been known in Europe. The purport of the agrarian 
reforms made during the French Eevolution is to be read in 
a few pages of the Code Napoleon, which treat agricultural 
tenancy as a mere form of hiring, and regulate it by the 
strictest principles of contract. The reforms of Stein and 
Hardenberg, so often cited in support of double ownership, 
were really designed to establish the very contrary, entire 
unity of ownership ; and, instead of confiscating landlords' 
property for the benefit of tenants, actually confiscated tenants' 
property for the benefit of landlords, though a full equivalent 
was secured for the dispossessed tenants in the exemption 
from vexatious liabiHties. To justify this departure from the 
practice of civilised nations, it is assumed that Irish tenants, 
alone among the industrial members of civilised society, are 
not free agents ; and to justify this assumption, it is further 


assumed that, unless they accept their landlords' terms, they 
must needs starve. It is forgotten that, as a matter of fact, 
millions of them have bettered themselves by emigrating to 
America, and many hundreds of thousands find employment 
in the manufacturing towns of Great Britain. It is forgotten 
that no soil can possibly support a constantly multiplying 
peasantry, and that English farmers must long ago have 
devoured each other if they had insisted on keeping their 
families around them, instead of launching them forth into 
the world. It is forgotten that many other classes, such as 
artisans or labourers in the East of London, have quite as 
strong a claim to be protected against the possible extortion 
of rapacious landlords, paying high rents, yet getting nothing 
out of the soil. It is forgotten, moreover, or if not forgotten, 
it is wilfully ignored, that by erecting the existing tenants of 
farms into a landholding caste, an irreparable wrong is done, 
not only to all the existing labourers and landless farmers 
who happen to be outside that class, but also to all future 
applicants. Thirteen years ago. Judge Longfield denounced 
any measure which should enable a man who takes a farm 
to-day without payment to sell his lease to-morrow for several 
hundred pounds. ' This,' he says, ' is to give him a property 
which he did not purchase or earn, merely because he 
threatens to commit murder if he is kept to his engagements.' 
But this is precisely what has been done by the Land Act ; 
and from this moment it is certain that every farm which 
changes hands in Ireland must needs be practically rack- 
rented. The lower the landlord's rent, the higher the value 
of the tenant-right ; and no tenant, squeezed between these 
upper and nether millstones, can possibly hope to farm at a 

3. This consideration suggests a third and no less dis- 
astrous effect of the Land Act. It is well known that ever 
since they acquired a marketable interest in their holdings 
under the Act of 1870, Irish tenants have been more and 
more in the hands of money-lenders, against whose exactions 
Parliamentary intervention has never been invoked. A mass 

K 2 

132 THE lEISH LAND ACT OF 1881 : 

of evidence was laid before the Bessborough Commission, 
showing that borrowing upon tenant right was the curse of 
Ulster, and has increased many-fold since the Act of 1870. 
In the face of these notorious facts and evidence, Irish tenants 
have now been almost invited to mortgage their holdings. 
In addition to any charge which the landlord may have upon 
it for himself or his creditors, the land may now have to bear 
interest on the sum which the incoming tenant has borrowed 
for the purchase of tenant-right, interest on any money which 
he may yet borrow from the Government or ' gombeen-men ' 
for improvements or labourers' cottages, and interest on what 
he will probably succeed in raising from the same local usurers 
for his daughters' marriage portions. It is quite possible 
that a new Encumbered Estates Court will soon be needed to 
clear the land from this enormous pressure of debt ; but it is 
equally possible that, in such an event, the debtors will form 
a new Land League against the creditors. As for the land- 
lord's rent, however ruthlessly it may have been pared down, 
it will assuredly be the last debt to be paid, and either it will 
vanish altogether, or it wiU have to be exacted by a constant 
resort to eviction. The one clasa in the community which 
has already gained, and must inevitably gain, more than any 
other from this revolution in the rural economy of Ireland, is 
the lower class of legal practitioners. If the money that is 
now going and about to go in the pockets of Irish lawyers 
under the incentives to litigation afforded by the Act, could 
have been applied to indemnifying every Irish tenant who 
had a real grievance, it would have gone far to allay all well- 
founded discontent. 

To suppose that such a measure can produce a permanent 
settlement of agrarian relations in Ireland, is to expect that 
the laws of human nature, as well as those of political economy, 
will be reversed in that island. Deprived of all motives for 
residing in the country, or improving their estates, most 
Irish landowners above the rank of squireens will either dis- 
pose of their properties, generally at a ruinous loss, or sink 
into the position of mere rent-chargers. Thus thrown out of 


employment, and left more and more at the mercy of tenant- 
farmers, the class of labourers, which, throughout history, 
has furnished the readiest instruments of Irish outrage, will 
become more dangerous than ever. The one and only hope 
that remains for the prosperity and peace of Ireland, under 
the new Land Act, lies in the scheme which it contains for 
the creation of a peasant proprietary. If a tenant contracts 
directly with his landlord for the purchase of his farm, the 
Land Commission is empowered to advance him three-fourths 
of the price, if he can pay down the other fourth. Again, 
where three-fourths of the tenants on an estate are willing to 
purchase their farms, and certain other conditions are satis- 
fied, the Land Commission may buy up the whole estate, and 
resell it, advancing three-fourths of the price to each purchaser 
as before. The advance is to be repaid by annual instalments 
of 5 per cent, on the sum advanced, extending over thirty- 
five years ; the effect of which is that a tenant buying his 
farm will only have to pay a fraction more than his ordinary 
rent, to become master of it in thirty-five years. This is well 
explained in the short treatise of Mr. Macdevitt on the Land 
Act. Suppose a man has a farm at 201. a year rent. ' Its 
probable value would be 400L, or twenty years' purchase. 
The Land Commission will advance him 300Z. He will have 
to provide the remaining 1001. or raise it in some other 
way ; but if he has the lOOZ. and pays it, he will have to go 
into debt to the Commission only, and that for the SOW. 
For that sum, principal and interest, he will have to pay the 
Commission 151. a year for thirty-five years, and then the 
farm is his own altogether.' 

Though Part V. of the Land Act, which contains these 
provisions, with those for Eeclamation and Emigration, is 
essentially supplemental in its nature, and though it has 
scarcely begun to operate, there is no rashness in predicting 
that it will hereafter prove the most important chapter of the 
new agrarian code. The authors of the Act never ceased to 
protest that it could not lead to a wholesale reduction of rents, 
fully admitting that, if it shoUld do so, aggi-ieved landlords 


would have a claim to comijensation. Unless these public 
declarations are to be publicly repudiated, the claim to com- 
pensation will now have to be recognised, and the simplest 
form of compensation would be the conversion of a judicial 
rent into a rent-charge on the holding, which the State should 
buy on fair terms from the landlords. This rent-charge 
would then become, in effect, a terminable land tax ; and 
until it was paid off, the State would be the paramount 
landowner. No doubt there are grave objections to State- 
ownership ; but these objections have been all but set aside 
in the scheme for advances to purchasing tenants. No doubt 
it is a serious question whether small Irish farmers are fitted 
to be their own landlords, subject only to a land-tax, and 
whether all the legal safeguards that can be devised will 
prevent their subletting their lands three deep, or loading 
them with successive mortgages. But this question has been 
silenced by the supposed necessity of granting the charter of 
the Three F's, since the perpetual occupier of a farm at a 
fixed rent, with an unlimited power of sale, has all the attri- 
butes of an owner except the full sense of responsibility. 

Upon the development of this sense, with the self-respect 
and loyalty that naturally spring from it, depends the last 
chance of political and social regeneration in Ireland. The 
controlling influence of the Protestant clergy was inevitably 
weakened by Disestablishment ; that of the priests has been 
sensibly undermined by the spread of Fenian ideas. The 
interest of the landlords, the one remaining bulwark of social 
order in Ireland, and the one security for the expenditure 
of capital, has been hopelessly shattered by the Land Act. 
Henceforth the Irish peasant farmers will be masters of the 
country ; for there is no urban middle class to balance them, 
and no public opinion except that which is fabricated by 
newspapers to flatter their ignorant passions. Since they 
must be a landed democracy in fact, let them be elevated into 
a landed democracy by law, and encouraged, if it may be, to 
acquire those democratic virtues in which they are so deplor- 
ably wanting. It is said that in the lawless days which 



preceded the second conquest of Ireland under the Tudor 
sovereigns, the Irish Council invoked the intervention of 
Henry VII. to put down the great Earl of Kildare. 'AH 
Ireland,' they protested, ' cannot govern this man.' ' Then,' 
replied the King, 'this man shall govern all Ireland.' A 
similar policy seems to have inspii-ed the Irish Land Act of 
1881 ; let us hope that it will be less ruinous in its results. 
Despairing at last of appeasing the land-hunger of Irish 
peasant farmers upon any known principles of justice or 
pohtical economy, the Legislature has now delivered over the 
agricultural and social destinies of Ireland into the hands of 
that ungovernable class, placing the labourers under their 
guardianship, and reducing the landlords to a position in 
which they are equally powerless for good or for evil. Having 
gone so far, let us not shrink from going a step further, 
abolishing the figment of landlordism, and leaving no sem- 
blance of paternal authority in the rural districts of Ireland. 

The high authority of Judge Longfield may, it is true, be 
cited against the creation of a peasant-proprietary in Ireland. 
He believes that ' if all the land in Ireland were divided in 
fee-simjile among the peasantry, the number of murders 
would not be diminished ; ' and he reminds us that, ' when 
the Celt becomes the absolute owner of land, he is just as 
willing as the Saxon to become a landlord, and to insist upon 
all a landlord's rights, which he then seems to think very 
reasonable.' All this is but too evident. It is probable 
enough that, with the growth of peasant proprietorship, 
sanguinary domestic feuds may take the place of attacks on 
land-agents or process-servers, and that Irish agi-arian out- 
rage, instead of being quelled, may simply revert towards its 
original type. But, while this is probable, the continuance 
of anarchy, despite the operation of the new Land Act, is 
an ascertained fact. Under every system of tenancy, Irish 
character has proved utterly intractable ; the one experiment 
that remains to be tried is a system of pure ownership. 
With no one to coax, and no one to intimidate, with the 
whole burden of local government and taxation cast upon 


him, with a discontented class of labourers to conciliate, and 
with State officials instead of land-agents to enforce the 
payment of his land-tax, the Irish peasant farmer, like the 
Scotch clansman, may one day perchance he transformed 
into a peaceable citizen, tenacious of his rights but mindful 
of his duties; and not only the sinister origin, but the 
chimerical aims, of the last Irish Land Act may even yet be 
forgotten in the beneficence of its unforeseen effects. 



Fraser's Magazine, 1882 

The influence of the last Irish Land Act could not fail to 
make itself speedily felt in a novel claim of Tenant-right for 
British farmers. The phrase ' tenant-right,' it is true, has 
long been a familiar watchword of agricultural reform. But 
until lately this phrase has been used in a very limited ac- 
ceptation. The custom of Lincolnshire Tenant-right, for 
instance, hberal though it might be, was never understood 
to extend beyond the establishment of certain equities, chiefly 
by way of compensation for the unexhausted value of im- 
provements, as between outgoing tenants and landlords or 
incoming tenants.* Even Ulster Tenant-right, though often 
very loosely defined and referred to a fanciful origin, was 
admitted to rest upon this and no other basis. The assump- 
tion always was that the land had been originally redeemed 
from its prairie state by the tenant's predecessors in title, 
and that a second property in it had thus been created, with 
the landlord's consent, which possessed, a marketable value. 
It is worthy of remark that Irish ' tenants' improvements,' in 
this sense, were specially mentioned by Sir William Petty 
more than 200 years ago, and there is reason to believe that 
some of the customary securities for such improvements still 
prevailing in certain English counties are of a very ancient 
date. Estates have been inherited and farms have been 
taken for generations subject to local customs of this kind, 

' In Mr. Dixon's Law of the Farm, tenant-right is defined as ' the claim for 
remuneration which an outgoing agricultural tenant has on his landlord for 
various operations of husbandry, the ordinary return of which he is precluded 
from receiving by the termination of his tenancy.' 


which have been imported by law, Uke the customs of trade, 
into every contract between landlord and tenant, in the 
absence of express words to the contrary. The utmost that 
was claimed for English farmers by the late Mr. Pusey and 
other reformers of his school was that the best existing 
customs should be expressly legalised and nationalised. As 
for Scotch farmers, the great majority of them were perfectly 
content with the nineteen-year leases so long established in 
Scotland, and scorned the idea of legal protection — except, 
indeed, against the ravages of hares and rabbits. 

The modern claim of Tenant-right is of an entirely dif- 
ferent nature, and is advocated on principles of which the 
first legislative recognition is to be found in the Irish Land 
Act of 1870. By giving tenants an indefeasible claim to com- 
pensation for improvements, but, far more, by giving them 
a beneficial right of possession, guarded and measured by a 
heavy penalty on ' disturbance,' that Act crippled the power 
of landlords either for good or for evil, and threw Ireland 
back from a system of tenure by contract towards a system 
of tenure by status. From that moment a new idea of 
agrarian relations has entered the minds of British farmers. 
At last, since the Irish Land Act of 1881, ithas shaped itself 
into demands, reasonable, indeed, by comparison with that 
Act, yet quite irreconcilable with freedom of contract, and 
put forth under the authority of the Farmers' Alliance in the 
form of separate bills for England and Scotland respectively. 
The leading provisions of these Bills are the same, but certain 
distinctive features in them require separate notice. 

Here followed a detailed analysis of the Bills for England and 
Scotland promoted by the Farmers' Alliance, showing wherein 
they differ from the Irish Land Act, and a short account of the BUI 
adopted by the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture. 

Of course, the most distinctive feature common to all 
these Bills is the unconditional and undisguised surrender of 
Contract as the basis of agricultural relations. Sir Henry 
Maine tells us that in all progressive societies the movement, 
from a juridical point of view, has been a movement from 


Status to Contract. We have seen, however, that of late 
years, and especially since the Irish Land Act of 1870, there 
has been a growing tendency in this country to demand a 
reversal of this movement by legislative force. The Irish 
tenant-right party and their English supporters have openly 
demanded that all dealings between landlord and tenant 
should be taken out of the domain of Contract. With strange 
inconsistency, the very same school of agrarian reformers 
insist upon the necessity of unrestricted freedom in all other 
transactions relating to land. They inveigh, with justice, 
against the legal trammels of Entail and Settlement ; they 
ask, with some ignorance but with much reason, why the sale 
of land should not be as simple as that of shares or pictures ; 
and they apply, without reservation, all the maxims of Free 
Trade to landownership and land-transfer. Not only so, but 
they dwell with peculiar emphasis on the right and capacity 
of tenant-farmers to contract freely with every other class of 
human beings except their landlords. As has been well said, 
' the man who, on account of the severe competition for land, 
requires to be emancipated from his contract, is the very 
man who wants to avail himself of that competition to exact 
the last farthing he can wrench out of a purchaser, when he 
sells his farm.' His agreements about the course of cultiva- 
tion or duration of his tenure, made with the fullest knowledge 
of all the circumstances, are to be set aside like those of a 
child or a lunatic, and, no matter how low his rent, he is not 
to have the power of foregoing any one of the privileges 
offered to him by the statute. But he must be left perfectly 
free to contract with the manure-merchant, the maker of 
agricultural implements, the banker, or the local usurer ; in 
those relations he is to be treated as a shrewd man of business, 
and the slightest attempt to protect him against their impor- 
tunities or extortions would be ridiculed as an insult to his 
intelligence. Surely it is difficult to reconcile these opposite 
modes of regarding the same class. Surely it is not self- 
evident that contracts for the hire of land, as the Duke of 
Argyll calls them, are so radically different from all other 


contracts as to call for the minute regulation ■which formerly 
prevailed, under tribal ownership, in the Irish Sept and the 
Hindoo Village Community, There may be, and there are, 
good reasons why they should be watched by the State with 
special care, and even subjected to special rules of law ; but 
it has yet to be shown why they should be controlled by 
that system of official tutelage established under the Irish 
Land Act. 

That Act, if it can be defended at all, must be defended 
by historical, political, sentimental, or economical reasons 
which have no application to England or Scotland. Neither 
English nor Scotch tenants, as a class, have virtually inherited 
their land, or erected homesteads upon it, or made or main- 
tained substantial improvements, or been treated by the 
landlord, the agent, their neighbours, or anyone else, as part- 
owners. They do not resemble copyholders in the smallest 
degree, being essentially the creatures of contract, and not of 
custom ; especially in Scotland, where the contract is usually 
made afresh every nineteen years, in the most binding and 
explicit form — that of a lease. There is no pretence of an un- 
healthy competition for agricultural holdings in Great Britain, 
nor can it be alleged that, for want of manufacturing enter- 
prise, a farmer's son without a farm has no alternative but 
emigration or the workhouse. On the contrary, farms have 
long been more plentiful than good tenants, and the attractions 
of other pursuits are such, both in Great Britain and in the 
colonies, that it is now difficult to keep a good tenant, except 
on very liberal terms. On what ground, then, is compulsory 
Tenant-right demanded for British farmers, in a form which 
involves the principle of the Irish three F's, however modified 
in degree, and which is designed to override existing agree- 
ments ? 

This question is assuredly not answered in any of the 
manifestoes hitherto issued by the advocates of compulsory 
Tenant-right. We must, therefore, endeavour to deal with 
it for ourselves, not forgetting that in these Bills the protec- 
tion conceded is not wholly one-sided, but embraces to some 


extent the landlord's interests, as well as those of the tenant. 
One thing is clear. The argument for compulsory Tenant- 
right in Great Britain essentially rests on grounds of ex- 
pediency, and hardly at all on grounds of justice. Here and 
there, no doubt, there may be cases of an English or Scotch 
landlord confiscating his tenant's improvements, or raising 
the rent unfairly upon him. But the cases are far more 
numerous in which the tenant, beggaring out the land, con- 
fiscates his landlord's capital ; and in both classes of cases 
the parties might have protected themselves by inserting and 
enforcing proper clauses in their agreements. Even when 
such clauses are inserted, there is much truth in the saying 
that they are good against the landlord, but not against the 
tenant, who is far more likely to incur bankruptcy, and who, 
if he should fail in asserting the rights of strength, can 
usually fall back on the privileges of weakness. If, then, we 
are not only to place agricultural relations in future under a 
rigid and uniform system, but to interfere directly with vested 
interests, our action must be justified by some very strong 
reason of policy, if not of necessity. Such a reason was 
pleaded in favour of the Ground Game Bill, which, however, 
was not forcibly applied to existing leases. Although it was 
obvious that farmers might easily recoup themselves for the 
ravages of game by stipulating for a ' game rent,' or might 
decline clauses reserving game to the landlord, and although, 
in these days of Free Trade, excessive game-preserving has 
little influence on the national food supplies, it was felt that 
an extreme exercise of sporting rights by one man over land 
occupied by another was prejudicial to interests broader and 
higher than mere agricultural interests. Let us now consider 
whether equally cogent reasons can be advanced in favour of 
compulsory Tenant-right, and, if so, how it should be limited. 
Now, granting, for the sake of argument, that a tenant 
ought to have an indefeasible right of compensation for all 
improvements which increase the letting value, why should 
the amount of this compensation be determined by free sale 
instead of by public valuation, and why should the landlord 


be deprived of his right to select another tenant ? Of course, 
the special virtue of Free Sale, in the eyes of its bigoted 
adherents, is that it implicitly converts a tenant into a part- 
owner, but it is precisely this double ownership which it is 
most important to discourage from every economical point of 
view. Moreover, it is easy to show how impossible it would 
be to separate the value of goodwill from the value of im- 
provements, and therefore how unfairly a tenant's right to 
sell the latter in open market would sometimes operate on 
the landlord's interest. Suppose that B holds a farm of A, 
and has made improvements which are worth 200L at a fair 
valuation. But C, who may be a railway contractor, or a 
manufacturer, or a tradesman with large business premises 
close at hand, is willing to offer 5001. or 1,000^. for the right 
of occupation, not because the improvements are worth so 
much, but because the land itself has an exceptional value for 
him. Is B to pocket the whole price of this latent value, and 
may not A, the owner of the soil, make his own terms with 
the new tenant, after paying B 200Z. ? But, again, under 
the plan of Free Sale formulated in these Bills, the door 
is opened to unlimited fraud, and there could be no possible 
security against a fictitious applicant being put forward to 
offer a fancy price for the improvements. It is hopeless for 
a Court to ascertain whether a man has ' sufficient means ' 
of his own to cultivate a farm, or whether the objections of 
the landlord to him are ' reasonable.' The highest bidder in 
the Tenant-right market is not unlikely to be the least eligible 
as a tenant ; and the less eligible he might be as a tenant, 
the greater would be the necessity for the landlord to buy 
him off. Hitherto, the stock argument against distress and 
hypothec has been that landlords are thus encouraged to ac- 
cept men of straw for tenants. If this clause should become 
law, they would be often compelled to accept men of straw 
on pain of a heavy pecuniary fine. 

No doubt ' Free Sale,' once conceded, involves ' Fair 
Eent,' for no tenant could obtain a fuU price for his improve- 
ments from his successor, if the landlord were able to raise 


the rent in proportion. It is, in fact, a cardinal objection to 
Free Sale that, under a specious name, it really puts an end 
to all freedom in contracts for the hire of land. True, it is 
not projjosed to establish in England a periodical adjudication 
of rents, such as became a necessity for Ireland when fixity 
of tenure was there introduced, and such as becomes a neces- 
sity for Scotland, under the Farmers' Alliance Bill granting 
a similar fixity of tenure, at the option of Scotch farmers. 
The Bill for England ostensibly leaves the parties free to 
decide whether the existing contract of tenancy shall be 
renewed at all, and it is only where they are willing to renew 
it that a compulsory jurisdiction over the future rent is vested 
in the Court. But it will be renewed ij)so facto on the old 
conditions unless two years' notice be given ; and whereas, in 
prospect of renewal, the tenant will have the right of getting 
the rent adjusted by the Court, and whereas, if it should not 
be renewed, he will retain the same right with a view to a 
sale, the landlord's power of getting the market value for the 
use of his land will be reduced to an infinitesimal minimum. 
Probably in England it will be easier to find capable and 
honest assessors to fix the standard of rent than it is in 
Ireland, but no official valuation can approach in fairness to 
an open bargain, where both parties are free. One illustra- 
tion of the diiference may perhaps sufiice. Under the Farmers' 
Alliance Bill the Court is prohibited, and justly prohibited, 
from considering anything but present value as affected by 
past acts or circumstances. But the fairness of a rent to be 
paid in future may depend entirely on future acts or circum- 
stances, such as the execution of drainage by either party, or 
the prospective extension of a railway. These all-important 
elements are excluded from calculation — as, indeed, they must 
be, if the Court is to assess rents — and the result may be 
monstrously unjust either to landlord or tenant. 

We must, therefore, reject the claim of Free Sale and 
judicial rents, still more that of Fixity of Tenure, for British 
farmers. Indeed, a disposition has already been shown by 
influential members of the Farmers' Alliance to recede from 


the demand of Free Sale, the concession of which is the basis 
of the Irish Land Act. It is demonstrable that all the advan- 
tages which can possibly be derived from these privileges 
could be obtained by a hberal system of leases ; and it is not 
demonstrable, nor is it true in fact, that British farmers are 
unable to procure such leases from their landlords. The 
more tenants are assimilated to copyholders, as they are by 
the three F's, the more is the landlord's interest in the 
partnership diminished. The present generation of tenants 
might gain something which they had not earned. But the 
inevitable, though gradual, withdrawal of landlords' capital, 
now virtually lent to farmers at a minimum rate of interest, 
and the gradual and the rapid accumulation of debt on the 
security of Tenant-right, would surely render farming less 
profitable for the next generation. Nor has even a prima 
facie case been shown for this agrarian revolution, especially 
in the present state of agriculture. The historical conditions, 
which are supposed to justify the three F's in Ireland, have 
no place in Great Britain. No Englishman or Scotchman is 
compelled to hire land at all. There never was a time when 
those who may wish to do so could procure it on easier terms. 
Indeed, so far as we can foresee, British farmers rather than 
landlords are likely in future to be masters of the land market. 
If there be a class of British tenants which needs legislative 
protection against the extortion of landlords, it is assuredly 
not the class of agricultural tenants, but that of small house- 
holders and lodgers in great towns. A few owners of house 
property in the artisans' quarter of a manufacturing centre 
may possess a monopoly infinitely more oppressive than the 
so-called monopoly of agricultural landlords, and the cottage- 
tenants of agricultural landlords are far more defenceless 
than the farm-tenants. It is not surprising that a House- 
holders' Fair Eent Alliance has already been formed against 
ground-landlords, and it ought in reason to be followed by 
the formation of a Lodgers' Fair Eent Alliance against house- 
holders. It may be said, no doubt, that, after all, householders, 
town lodgers, and cottagers are free to migrate elsewhere. 


But then may not this argument be applied, and with much 
greater force, to farm-tenants, for whose exclusive benefit a 
modified version of the Irish three F's is now demanded as 
an act of justice ? 

It is an entirely different question whether a statutable 
Tenant-right, in the sense of a right to compensation for the 
unexhausted value of improvements, is not defensible on 
grounds of policy. ' It is quite possible to conceive that, 
under a land-system so highly artificial as that of England, 
inveterate customs may have grown up, inconsistent with the 
real interests of landlords as well as tenants, and only to be 
counteracted by the superior force of law. . . . Society cannot 
always afford to wait until economical principles have vindi- 
cated themselves, perhaps at a ruinous cost to consumers, in 
the course of generations.' ' From this point of view there 
are very strong, if not conclusive, arguments in favour of 
giving tenants an indefeasible right of compensation for im- 
provements of a certain kind, and landlords a summary 
remedy, in lieu of distress, against certain defaults on the 
part of tenants. The precedents for such an interference 
with contract are too numerous to be cited ; it is enough to 
point out that if agreements ' in restraint of trade ' may 
properly be invalidated, so also may agreements ' in restraint 
of agi'iculture.' But it does not follow that an indefeasible 
right of compensation should be extended to ' anything done 
by the tenant whereby the letting value of the holding is 
increased.' So long as the agricultural system of Great 
Britain is one of tenancy, it is by no means expedient to 
encourage the tenant in undertaking permanent improvements, 
which ought to be executed, if at all, by the landlord. Tenants 
have rarely more than enough capital for the proper cultiva- 
tion of their farms. If they should enter upon large building, 
drainage, or reclamation works, they would usually do it on 
borrowed money, and could not be expected to do it with due 
regard to the general benefit of the estate. The ' value of 
the holding ' might be increased, but the landlord might have 

' Brodrick's English Land and English Landlords, part iv. cli. ii. 


good reasons for subdividing the holding or consoHdating it 
with another, in which case the so-called improvement might 
be actually detrimental. It is only in respect of agricultural 
tenancies that so unreasonable a pretension would be enter- 
tained for a moment. If a house and garden were let by the 
year in the suburbs of a town, no one would dream of claim- 
ing for the tenant a right to erect villas in the garden at his 
own pleasure, and to receive compensation if ' the letting 
value of the holding ' were increased thereby. Such a claim 
is, in fact, inconsistent with full proprietorship, and full pro- 
prietorship was always recognised as the highest ideal of land 
tenure, until retrograde ideas were propagated by the sup- 
porters of the Irish Land Act. 

On the other hand, no landlord could suffer any injury, 
while a new spirit might be infused into British agriculture, 
if an indefeasible right of compensation were secured to every 
tenant for outlay essential to good husbandry, under the con- 
ditions of modern farming. Whether or not the various forms 
of such outlay are adequately enumerated under the third- 
class improvements of the Agricultural Holdings Act, does 
not affect the fundamental principle. That principle is, 
that, where it is of paramount importance to establish a 
general sense of security, and where free contract has failed 
to do so, the State may legitimately effect it by Act of Parlia- 
ment, for the benefit of all parties concerned ; since the sense 
of security may actually add a new value to land, without 
robbing anyone. To this extent, and to this extent only, the 
interests of consumers, so freely invoked in support of Tenant- 
right, are really concerned in its recognition. Nor would it 
be difficult to devise a mode of limiting indefeasible Tenant- 
right. The simplest plan would be to frame clauses, defining 
ordinary acts of good husbandry, giving an outgoing tenant 
an absolute right to compensation for their unexhausted 
value, and creating a machinery whereby that right should 
be enforced. But a gentler and, perhaps, more effective 
method of securing the same end, would be to make the 
compulsory enactments operative only where the parties 


should have failed to embody their agreement in a lease of a 
certain duration. Had the well-known principle of the leases 
granted by the Earl of Leicester been generally adopted 
throughout England, it is probable that no wide-spread 
demand for indefeasible Tenant-right would have arisen. 
It is equally probable that if indefeasible Tenant-right were 
established by law, in default of a lease, the practice of grant- 
ing leases would again become a national custom, as it was 
in the last century. 

Doubtless this would not satisfy the latest claim of 
Tenant-right for British farmers, as embodied in the Bills 
already discussed. But that claim will not bear a close 
examination by the light of any economical or moral standard* 
In its broader features it is copied from the last Irish Land 
Act, and breathes, like it, the spirit of class-legislation. If 
the application of the new law were to be prospective only, it 
would be open to none but economical objections ; but, so far 
as it is retrospective, it would most unjustly enrich the present 
race of farmers at the expense of their landlords and their 
successors— not excluding labourers ambitious to become the 
possessors of farms. For every new tenant would of course 
have to pay a heavy valuation on entry, and would be all the 
less able to offer a fair rent. What pretence of justice can 
there be for thus burdening future occupiers for the exclusive 
benefit of present occupiers ? How can a man who took a 
farm last year, at a certain rent, subject to a year's notice to 
quit, and with a full knowledge that his improvements might 
then become his landlord's property, honestly call upon the 
Legislature to convert these into his own property, and to 
give him the option of selling them or holding on at a judicial 
rent ? However disguised, and however qualified, this means 
confiscation, and would soon be acknowledged as confiscation 
by the very class on whose behalf it is demanded, if it should 
ever be applied to cottages and gardens held of farmers by 
farm-labourers- It is the duty of the Legislature to resist 
such a claim aa firmly as it would resist an equally plausible 
claim, on behalf of consumers, to restrict the price of farm 

L 2 


produce, or, on behalf of labourers, to fix a minimum rate of 
farm wages. It is certain that, before 1870, no English 
statesman or economist of repute would have entertained the 
idea for a moment. It is equally certain that, with the one 
ominous exception of the Irish Land Act, no precedent can 
be cited for so violent a disturbance of agricultural contracts 
from the legislation of modern Europe or America. In other 
countries, where the devolution of landed property is strictly 
prescribed by law, absolute freedom is allowed in agreements 
of tenancy, and existing contracts are held absolutely sacred. 
The French Code, which lays down certain rules of compen- 
sation, expressly authorises the parties to contract themselves 
out of its provisions, which they usually do. It would be 
strange indeed if England, the mother of Free Trade, and the 
stronghold of liberty against Communism, should be the first 
of civilised nations to adopt an agrarian code manifestly 
based on a communistic theory. 



' Eraser's Magazine,' Feb. 1882 

This article was mainly devoted to a detailed review of the Eeporfc 
just issued by the Eoyal Agricultural Commission, especially in 
regard to the effect on British Agriculture of bad seasons, combined 
with low prices, of foreign competition, of high rents, of increased 
rates directly levied from the occupier, of rising wages and less 
efficient labour, and of compulsory education ; with remarks on 
suggested legislative reforms, including the prohibition of restrictive 
covenants in agricultural agreements, and the adoption of statutable 
Tenant-right. The following extracts may be of somewhat more 
general interest : — 

The Eeport of the Eoyal Agricultural Commission must needs 
disappoint any who may have expected from it a prescription 
of heroic remedies for agricultural depression. But it must 
also disappoint those who looked, at least, for an authoritative 
and decisive verdict on the great open questions affecting the 
tenure and occupation of land. Yet the Commissioners may, 
perhaps, be justified in recording their opinion that the con- 
dition of British agriculture has never been the subject of a 
' more comprehensive and laborious inquiry ' than that which 
they have conducted. They were appointed three years ago 
to consider and report, ' with all convenient speed, upon the 
depressed condition of the agricultural interest, and the causes 
to which it is owing ; whether those causes are of a permanent 
character, and how far they have been created or can be 
remedied by legislation.' The Commission was strongly con- 
stituted, having the Duke of Eichmond for its president, and 
containing able representatives of landowners and farmers, as 
well as men like Mr. Bonamy Price and Mr. Eodwell. It was 


aided by Eeports from Assistant Commissioners, who visited 
not only every district of Great Britain, but America and 
Canada, France, Holland, Belgium, and Denmark. The 

* notes ' issued as instructions for the guidance of these 
Assistant Commissioners were of a most elaborate and ex- 
haustive character. The evidence taken before the Commis- 
sioners themselves is as voluminous as could be desired. 
Nevertheless, the ultimate result of their deliberations, pro- 
longed over three years, is more than imsatisfactory. The 
Report, in fact, is miserably conceived, miserably arranged, 
miserably composed, and miserably edited. It ignores alto- 
gether many important topics directly connected with the 
subject of inquiry, and presents an extremely meagre review 
of those which it purports to discuss. It embodies no ade- 
quate, or even tolerable, digest of the materials so diligently 
collected, and her Majesty is virtually invited to ransack 
for herself the vast mass of mformation accumulated, but 
not analysed, by the Commissioners. Instead of a digest, we 
have a series of disjointed paragraphs and quotations, grouijed 
together with little regard to logical sequence or literary 
Bjonmetry, and often ending with no definite expression of 
opinion. The general impression left on the mind of the 
reader is that, after all their labour, the Commissioners felt 
themselves no wiser than before, and that, in their judgment, 
little or nothing can be done, by the State or by individuals, 
either to relieve agricultural depression in the present or to 
ward it off in the future. 

The predominant influence of bad seasons on the late 
agricultural crisis being admitted on all sides, it was hardly 
necessary for the Commissioners to point out so emphatically 
that it could not have been prevented by legislative changes. 

• Owners and occupiers have alike suffered from it. No de- 
scription of estate or tenure has been exempted. The owner 
in fee and the life-tenant, the occupier, whether of large or of 
small holdings, whether under lease, or custom, or agreement, 
or the provisions of the Agricultural Holdings Act — all with- 
out distinction have been involved in a general calamity.' 


The truth of this is self-evident, and the most strenuous 
advocate of agrarian reforms would not have expected disen- 
tailed estates or the plots of peasant-owners to be proof 
against floods and murrain, like the land of Goshen during 
the plagues of Egypt. Everyone, no doubt, ' suffered alike,' 
but it does not follow that everyone suffered equally, and it 
would have been interesting if the Report had enabled us to 
judge what classes of owners and occupiers were most suc- 
cessful in weathering the storm. There is reason to believe, 
for instance, that it pressed less heavily on farms of moderate 
size than on those of the largest and those of the smallest 
class. The explanation is simple and instructive. Farms of 
the largest class are very apt to be cultivated scientifically 
with borrowed capital, and though in good years they may 
yield ample returns, the levelling effect of a bad season tells 
specially against high farming, and leaves nothing out of 
which interest can be paid. Farms of the smallest class too 
often belong to men who, having little capital and no credit, 
are broken down by the loss on a single harvest. On the 
other hand, the occupier of a fifty-acre farm is more likely to 
have adequate capital of his own ; he relies chiefly on his 
own labour and that of his family, thereby getting the benefit 
of high wages ; his personal expenditure is on a humble scale; 
and, having little taste for scientific experiments, he escapes 
the ruinous losses, though he also loses the occasional profits, 
of these hazardous speculations. Had the Commissioners 
followed up this line of inquiry, they might perhaps have 
arrived at significant results. It may well be that a policy 
of agricultural consolidation, supposed to be justified by the 
analogy of manufactures, has been carried too far in Great 
Britain, and that it may be found profitable to break up 
of many of the largest farms into the smaller holdings out 
which they were but recently formed. At all events, this is 
a question which eminently deserves consideration, especially 
as a larger supply of farms requiring but moderate capital 
might keep in the country a great deal of agricultural skill 
and energy which now finds its way to America or Australia. 


The proposal of indefeasible Tenant-right in respect of 
unexhausted improvements, and that of a rate or tax leviable 
on all classes of property for indoor relief, suffice to redeem 
this inquiry from the reproach of utter barrenness. But its 
practical value begins and ends with these proposals, for the 
suggestion of a limitation in time on the landlord's right of 
distraint was already familiar to all interested in agricultural 
politics. Assuredly the public had a right to expect far more 
helpful counsels from such a Commission after three years of 
meditation, and we cannot but attribute the reticence and 
hesitation of their Report to a strange dread of uttering 
home-truths unpalatable either to landlords or tenants. An 
agricultural treatise might well be written on topics of the 
first importance entirely omitted by the Commissioners, ap- 
parently under the influence of this motive. We have already 
seen how considerately landlords are spared painful allusions 
to the connection of agricultural distress with incumbrances 
under entails, with the rise of rent during periods of prosperity, 
and with defects in estate management. But at least equal 
tenderness is shown for the feelings of tenants ; and no trust- 
worthy judgment can be formed on the future of British 
agriculture without a violation of the reserve which the Com- 
missioners have imposed upon themselves in regard to the 
shortcomings, not of labourers, but of farmers. 

The Commissioners speak very lightly of market garden- 
ing and fruit-growing as auxiliary sources of profit to ordinary 
farmers ; they are content to say of dairy-farming that it is 
beginning to be studied ' as possibly a profitable branch of 
agriculture ; ' and they seem to regard poultry-breeding and 
the production of eggs as beneath the dignity of agricultural 
science. Can they have been aware that nine or ten million 
hundredweights of potatoes alone, and no less than seven or 
eight hundred millions of eggs, are yearly imj^orted into the 
United Kingdom ? Had they realised that milk sent up from 
dairy-farms sixty or seventy miles distant is delivered carriage 
free at the London terminus for about dd. a gallon, while it 
is sold to London consumers at 20d. a gallon, thus leaving a 


profit of more than 100 per cent, on the last process of distri- 
bution ? Did they ask themselves how skilful poultry-breeding 
can fail to yield a profit of full 100 per cent., seeing that fowls 
have at least doubled their retail price within the last forty 
years, while the cost of feeding them has slightly diminished ? 
Had they dealt closely with such questions as these, they 
would soon have detected one main cause of agricultural 
depression, which, unhappily, bids fair to be ' permanent ' — 
the gradual retirement of the working farmer and the manag- 
ing farmer's wife before advancing civilisation. 

The portentous gi'owth of what may properly be called 
agricultui-al middlemen is at once a consequence and a proof 
of this marked change in the habits of farmers. The number 
of tenants may perhaps have been reduced by the consolida- 
tion of farms and the number of labourers by the substitution 
of machinery, but the number of persons making a Hving out 
of the land is far greater than it was in the olden times. 
Except the corn-dealer and the butcher, there was then 
hardly any intermediary between the cultivator and the con- 
sumer. The egg-dealer, the poultry-dealer, and the whole 
army of jobbers who now eat up the farmer's profits on milk, 
butter, and other articles of farm-produce, were then com- 
paratively unknown. The farmer usually bred and reared, if 
he did not slaughter, his own cattle; his wife trudged or 
jogged to market with her own turkeys, chickens, butter, 
cheese, and eggs, on which she received the retail as well as 
the wholesale profit. A toll is now exacted at every stage 
between production and consumption, and it has even been 
stated on good authority that butter made in the county of 
Cork pays six or seven profits before it reaches the London 
householder's table. Of course, all this represents an im- 
mense saving of trouble to modern farmers, but it also repre- 
sents a pecuniary loss, which, in the case of meat, greatly 
exceeds the effect of American competition. The sacrifice 
may be inevitable, but it certainly does not appear to be so ; 
nor is it at all self-evident that, by a simple application of the 
co-operative principle, the farmers of a neighbourhood might 


not employ a common salesman in London, and thus appro- 
priate almost the whole benefit of London prices. 

This brings into view another aspect of modern English 
farming to which equally little attention has been directed. 
The modern English farmer, occupying some two hundred 
acres or more, is essentially a superintendent rather than a 
husbandman, but in how many instances is he a trained and 
fully qualified superintendent of farm labour ? And, if he be 
not, is not that a -very costly system of agriculture which 
employs so large a class of overseers with no more than an 
empirical knowledge of their business ? Let us suppose an 
area of ten thousand acres in the possession of one, or more 
than one, landlord ; and let us suppose that a capital of some 
'80,000Z. is required to cultivate it properly. That capital is 
now provided — if indeed it be provided — by some forty or 
fifty tenants, most of them with famihes, and each living at 
the rate of something like 11. per acre. In other words, 
besides the 4,000Z. a year which must be set aside as interest 
on capital at 5 per cent., the mere superintendence of this 
area costs 6,000Z. a year. But it is at least worthy of con- 
sideration whether it might not be more efficiently superin- 
tended by one highly skilled manager with a salary of 1,000Z. 
a year and ten foremen-labourers or bailiffs receiving less than 
lOOZ. a year apiece. The result would be that 4,000Z. would be 
saved out of 6,000Z., and the land perhaps better cultivated after 
all. Though it would be very rash to speculate on the future 
development of our agricultural system, which depends on so 
many conditions beyond the sphere of economy, it is by no 
means improbable that arrangements of this kind may, at 
least, find a place in it. Nor would it be surprising if, side 
by side with farms thus managed on a grander scale, cottage 
farms, of which the Commissioners think so little, should 
become once more a characteristic feature of British agricul- 
ture. True it is, as the Eeport informs us, that petite culture 
has but slight chances of success except where there is ' facility 
of railway carriage and proximity to great centres of popula- 
tion.' But it so happens that most of Great Britain enjoys 


these advantages in a greater degree than any country except 
Belgium, while the consumers of Great Britain are wealthier 
and more willing to pay high prices than any other consumers 
in the world. 

Since this Report was signed, a more favourable season, 
and a more bountiful harvest, than we have enjoyed for some 
years past has once more revived the spirits of farmers. It 
is to be hoped that it will not obliterate from their minds the 
lessons taught by the long period of depression, or divert the 
attention of far-sighted agriculturists from the problems 
suggested, but not in any way solved, by the Eeport. ' The 
best hope for the prosperity of agriculture lies in the mutual 
confidence and friendly relations of the three classes directly 
engaged in it, and in the common conviction that their 
interests are inseparable.' No sentiment could be more 
praiseworthy in itself or more suitable for an agricultural 
dinner ; but it may well excite a smile as the final outcome 
of a grave inquiry into the State and Prospects of British 
Agriculture. It would be far more opportune to impress 
upon farmers that ' the best hope for the prosperity of agri- 
culture,' as of any other practical art, lies in the clear percep- 
tion of the ever-changing conditions which must govern its 
success, and the rapid adaptation of means to ends. If 
gardeners had been as much creatures of routine as farmers, 
we should miss all the finest varieties of flowers and fruits 
which now constitute the glory of British horticulture. That 
very tripartite system of agriculture, which is tacitly assumed 
in the Eeport to be an immutable ordinance of nature or 
Providence, is scarcely known in America, is exceptional in 
many parts of Europe, and must be regarded as on its trial 
in Great Britain itself. Lord Beaconsfield may have been 
right in asserting that land worth cultivating at all must 
needs yield three profits, but it makes a great difference 
whether these profits are all received by one, two, or three 
classes ; and if by two or three, in what proportions they are 
allotted. The great aim of agricultural reformers should be, 
not to uproot the existing system, which would be quite as 


unreasonable as to stereotype it, but to secure the utmost 
possible freedom of expansion for such modifications of owner- 
ship and tenure as future circumstances may dictate. The 
hierarchy of landlord, tenant-farmer, and labourer will con- 
tinue long, and perhaps for ever, to be distinctive of our rural 
economy. But it is probable that, in the agrarian constitu- 
tion of the future, peasant-proprietorship, and farmer-pro- 
prietorship, co-operative farming and cottage-farming, will pre- 
vail over a far larger area than at present. The English land 
system, as we see it, is not so much a spontaneous growth as 
an artificial creation, and it has been moulded not so much 
by skilful farmers, studying the interests of agriculture, as 
by skilful lawyers and land-agents studying interests of an 
entirely different nature. When English landowners, as a body, 
cease to be almost sleeping partners, and bring to bear on 
the business of cultivation the same intelligence and energy 
which are the life of British manufactures, there will be less 
need for appointing fresh Agricultural Commissions, and, if 
they should 'be appointed, their Eeports will probably breathe 
a far less desponding spirit. 





' The Nineteenth Century,' November 1883 

It is now more than seventeen years since Lord Sherbrooke, 
then Mr. Lowe, warned his countrymen against the perils 
of advancing Democracy, in the most remarkable series of 
parliamentary speeches delivered within living memory. In 
opposing the very moderate Keform Bill then under dis- 
cussion, he assumed that every downward extension of the 
franchise was ' a step in the direction of Democracy,' and 
he proceeded to construct a hideous ideal of Democracy, by 
combining all the worst features of ancient city governments 
with all the worst features of modern empires, republics, and 
colonial legislatures in which universal suffrage prevails. He 
described this imaginary Democracy as tyrannical at home 
and aggressive abroad, the enemy of all superiority, and the 
slave of every selfish prejudice. He pictured to himself the 
so-called ' degradation of the sufi'rage ' as inevitably involving 
a degradation of politics, and constantly lowering the standard 
of political morality. He maintained that if once the ignorant 
majority should become omnipotent, it would forthwith use 
its power to crush the educated minority, while it would 
prostitute itself before the flattery of demagogues and the 
bribes of millionaires. He foretold that democratic constitu- 
encies would assuredly return members of inferior character 
and intellect, little guided by public spirit or fixed principles, 
intolerant of administrative vigour in the Executive, and even 
of judicial independence on the Bench, obeying the caprices 
of popular sentiment, and incapable of appreciating a truly 
statesmanlike policy. 

The year after these gloomy predictions were uttered, a 
' degradation ' of the suffrage beyond that which Mr. Lowe had 



denounced was effected by a Conservative Ministry, and votes 
were given to all ratepaying householders in boroughs, as 
well as to a limited number of lodgers. We have now had 
some fifteen years' experience of this democratic franchise, 
and the sentiments of the new voters have been tested by 
three general elections. For a while, the apparent results 
of the change were such as to disappoint both the hopes of 
its advocates and the fears of its opponents. The Parliament 
of 1868 contained a strong Liberal majority, and carried 
several great measures which Lord Palmerston would pro- 
bably have never introduced, even if the old constituencies 
would have backed their members in supporting them. But 
the reformed House of Commons differed little from its pre- 
decessors in personal composition, nor could any specially 
democratic tone be detected in its debates. In 1874 there 
was a reaction. The Parliament of that year was the most 
Conservative that had been elected for a whole generation, 
and the majority, instead of blindly seeking instructions from 
their constituents, yielded an almost passive obedience to 
Lord Beaconsfleld. Still, the growing desire to conciliate the 
working classes made itself felt in such enactments as the 
Artisans and Labourers' Dwellings Act, while the action 
taken by Mr. Gladstone on the Eastern Question gave the 
first serious impulse to democratic interference with the 
conduct of foreign affairs. It is true that shopkeepers rather 
than labouring men crowded the indignation-meetings called 
to condemn the Bulgarian atrocities ; it is perhaps true, also, 
that most of those who attended them were as ignorant of 
the real issues at stake as the working-class deputation which 
besought Lord Palmerston to espouse the cause of Poland, 
under the impression that it was a democratic cause. Still, 
the fact remains that great mass-meetings were then, for the 
first time, urged by the first of English statesmen to take 
foreign policy under their own control, to drown the voice 
of Parliament, and to force the hand of the Government by 
a virtual plebiscite. The lesson has not been lost on the 
English, or on the Irish people. Thenceforward, Parliament 


has commanded less reverence in the eyes of the nation, and 
the same machinery which prevented Lord Beaconsfield from 
defending the integrity of the Turkish Empire was promptly 
set in motion to defeat Mr. Gladstone's own convention with 
M. de Lesseps respecting the Suez Canal. 

The general election of 1880 was the sequel of his bold 
appeal to democratic sentiment, and a genuine expression of 
that sentiment. Whatever other influences may have con- 
tributed to swell the Liberal majority, and whether or not 
the enthusiasm then kindled has been justified by the event, 
the verdict returned by the constituencies in 1880 was a 
thoroughly popular and honest verdict — a democratic protest 
of the national conscience and common-sense against what 
most of the electors regarded as an immoral and reactionary 
statecraft. This verdict may possibly be reversed at the next 
election ; personal and sectional discontents may again dis- 
solve the cohesive power of Liberal principles and party 
spirit ; the Irish legislation of 1881 and 1882 may prove to 
have alienated a considerable body of powerful Whigs ; the 
Egyptian War and the moderation of the Government on 
certain domestic questions may have cost the confidence of 
many extreme Eadicals ; the Affirmation Bill may be remem- 
bered against it in Scotland ; Mr. Gladstone may retire and 
leave no successor capable of rallying an united Liberal Party ; 
the extension of household suffrage to counties may be rele- 
gated, after all, to a new Parliament. But all this, even if it 
restore the Conservatives to office, will not arrest the steady 
progress of Democracy in England ; for that progress is in- 
dependent of party vicissitudes, and is part of a secular move- 
ment which no statesmanship can do much to accelerate or 
to retard. 

L It is high time, however, to ask ourselves what is 
meant by that progress of Democracy which all recognise, 
and which is tacitly assumed in the current language of 
poUtics. In what sense, if any, is England becoming every 
day more democratic? The answer, though simple, cannot 
be embraced within the limits of a legal definition. ' Demo- 


cracy,' or the rule of the people, is not a name for any 
particular form of government ; it denotes a political and social 
force which may underlie almost any form of government. 
No doubt this force operates most naturally and powerfully 
through republican institutions ; but there may be republican 
institutions without Democracy, and Democracy without re- 
publican institutions. The last French Empire was founded 
on a plebiscite, and even under the restored monarchy Demo- 
cracy in France was described by Eoyer Collard as ' running 
with a full stream ' ; so profoundly democratic has French 
public opinion become ever since the Eevolution. On the 
other hand, the ascendancy of privilege and authority — the 
principles of which Democracy is the negation — has seldom 
been more oppressive than under the earlier republic of Eome 
and the mediaeval republic of Venice. Neither of these 
Eepublics could have stood the crucial test of a plebiscite. 
Cromwell, who could not even keep the peace with a free 
Parliament, would assuredly never have submitted the fate 
of his own republican Commonwealth to such a test; and, 
if anything in history be certain, it is certain that the 
Restoration of Charles II. was the expression of an essentially 
popular revolt against the austere and intolerant reign of 
Puritanism, conducted under republican forms. It is the 
absolute supremacy of the popular will over all other powers 
in the State that constitutes a perfectly democratic govern- 
ment, as it is the abolition of all social distinctions that con- 
stitutes a perfectly democratic state of society. Where these 
conditions are more and more nearly realised in any com- 
munity, that community is growing more democratic, what- 
ever be its constitutional machinery ; and it is in this sense 
that we may properly speak of the progress of Democracy in 

At first sight, indeed, the contrast between such an in- 
direct rule of the people as is gaining strength in England and 
the direct rule of the people which prevailed in the more 
democratic republics of Greece and Italy, is so violent as almost 
to repel the idea of analogy. Let us take, for example, the 


graphic picture of Athenian Democracy in its golden age 
drawn by Mr. Freeman in one of his historical essays. In 
this typical Greek Democracy, all power, legislative, execu- 
tive, and judicial, was concentrated in the sovereign assembly 
of the people, where every citizen had an equal vote. The 
Senate, and even the Courts of Justice, were mere committees 
of this assembly, and held to be animated by the same 
passions ; Archons and Generals were mere executors of its 
will. No division of powers was attempted. 

'Demos was himself King, Minister, and ParHament. He 
had his smaller officials to carry out the necessary details of 
public business, but he was most undoubtedly his own First 
Lord of the Treasury, his own Foreign Secretary, his own 
Secretary for the Colonies. He himself kept up a personal 
correspondence both with foreign potentates and with his 
own officers on foreign service; ... he gave personal audi- 
ence to the ambassadors of other States, and clothed his own 
with just so great or so small a share as he deemed good 
of his own boundless authority. ... He was his own Lord 
High Chancellor, his own Lord Primate, his own Commander- 
in-Chief. He listened to the arguments of Kleon on behalf 
of a measure, and to the arguments of Nikias against it, and 
he ended by bidding Nikias to go and carry out the proposal 
which he had denounced as extravagant or unjust. He lis- 
tened with approval to his own " explanations " ; he passed 
votes of confidence in his own policy ; he advised himself to 
give his own royal assent to the Bills which he had himself 
passed, without the form of a second or third reading, or the 
vain ceremony of moving that the Prytaneis do leave their 

It is self-evident that Democracy of this Athenian type 
could only be developed in an urban community which also 
constituted a nation, and which had one and the same word 
for the ' city ' and the ' State.' A city mob, clothed with 
executive functions, could not possibly govern the United 
Kingdom or the British Empire, however gifted the race of 
which its citizens might have sprung, and there is, happily, 

M 2 


less prospect of the experiment being tried, since the institu- 
tion of representative government — the most beneficent of all 
political discoveries — has enabled the many to rule through 
the agency of the few. The Democracy which is steadily 
advancing in England, though similar in its real tendency, 
is entirely different in outward character, and essentially 
modern in its origin. It may be traced with confidence to a 
variety of definite general causes, three of which are worthy 
of special notice. . 

1. One of these, clearly indicated by M. de Laveleye, is 
the effect of mechanical inventions on civilisation. The in- 
vention of printing alone has done more to break down class- 
barriers and democratise society than all the efforts of social 
reformers in ancient and modern times. When books were 
manuscripts, and each of them cost months or years of labour 
to produce, the perusal of them was practically the monopoly 
of priests, monks, and philosophers, from whom the rest of 
mankind were content to borrow their ideas. Even in the 
last century, when there were plenty of books, indeed, but 
hardly any newspapers in England, criticism on the manage- 
ment of public affairs, and especially of foreign affairs, was 
practically confined within a. narrow circle of readers, scarcely 
to be numbered by tens of thousands, and mostly concentrated 
in London. Swift's ' Conduct of the Allies ' and the ' Letters 
of Junius' had, doubtless, a prodigious coffee-house circulation, 
and were probably devoured by a few hundred amateur poli- 
ticians, male and female, in the long and dreary evenings 
which followed the early dinners in those country-houses 
which Fielding and others have portrayed so vividly. But for 
the instruction of the people at large such circulation was as 
nothing compared with that of any one among the many 
leading newspapers, metropolitan and provincial, which now 
collectively number their readers by millions. Whether they 
be chiefly regarded as forming, or as reflecting, popular 
opinion, these journals have created a healthy community of 
political ideas between the people and the so-called governing 
classes. Instead of looking upon statesmanship as an occult 


science, the humblest elector or non- elector who can read 
now feels himself almost taken into the councils of the 
Cabinet, and, however conscious of ignorance, finds his 
political judgment treated with respect by Parliament and 
the Press. 

2. A no less powerful democratic force is the ever-increas- 
ing facility of locomotion. When labourers in the country 
lived and died under the shadow of their parish churches, 
never travelling beyond the nearest market town, and when 
even artisans seldom migrated from their native cities, being 
rooted there by custom as well as by the old law of ' settle- 
ment,' the power of combination remained dormant, and 
labour never measured its strength against capital except 
under an extreme sense of oppression. In these days, the 
labourer changes his residence as freely as the capitalist, no 
longer tramping on foot, but conveyed by the same train as 
his employer, while the spirit of Trades-Unionism, aided by 
this very cause, associates him with all his fellow-labourers 
throughout Europe and America. The constant tide of emi- 
gration setting towards the United States and the colonies, 
where society is equally democratic, reacts upon Great Britain 
itself, and introduces democratic ideas into families which, 
in the last generation, accepted without a murmur the paternal 
despotism of the squire and the parson. In becoming less 
stationary, the working classes are daily becoming more inde- 
pendent, and, in becoming more independent, they inevitably 
become a more important factor in the social and political 
community. Meanwhile Democracy, under these influences, is 
gradually assuming a more cosmopolitan character. National 
costumes have well-nigh disappeared in Europe, national 
prejudices are sensibly weakened, the dictates of national 
patriotism are often checked by sympathies of class or creed 
fostered by special organs of the Press ; and the statesman 
has sometimes to count, not only with the demands of national, 
but also with those of international, Democracy. 

3. A third cause of democratic progress, which few can 
desire to arrest, is the spread of popular education. The 


Eeformation, which is the real fountain-head of modern 
democratic ideas, gave the first impulse to this educational 
movement, as it also stamped with a religious sanction the 
aspirations of social equality. The democratic influence of 
Protestantism is perhaps most clearly marked in Scotland, 
where Presbyterian church government and the system of 
parish schools were established together by the authority 
of John Knox. No doubt, the political effects of that system 
have been partly intensified and partly tempered by other 
conditions, such as the survival of the old clan spirit, and 
the natural energy which has pushed members of the poorest 
Scotch families into the highest positions in Church or State. 
Still, it is the general diffusion of education during the last 
three centuries, and the association of all classes in common 
pchools, which have mainly contributed to develop the sturdy 
yet sober character of Scotch Democracy. An exact contrast 
is furnished by the experience of Ireland, where Democracy 
is travestied by anarchy and terrorism, utterly inconsistent 
with the manly self-reliance of free citizens, and where the 
democratic sentiment of social equality is almost entirely 
wanting. Had wiser counsels prevailed in the reign of 
Elizabeth, and had national schools been i)lanted all over 
Ireland as they were in Scotland, it is quite certain that 
Irishmen, CathoUcs as they mostly are, would now be far 
more democratic in temper, and probable that they would be 
far more loyal subjects. As for England, it is hardly too much 
to say that denjocratic tendencies date from the extension of 
popular education. Such outbreaks as the Lord George 
Gordon riots in the last century, or the Luddite riots in 
the early part of this century, were in no sense democratic 
movements, but mere ebullitions of fanaticism and prejudice. 
Even the fierce spirit of class-hatred which inspired the 
Chartists, and survives in the pages of 'Alton Locke,' was 
not truly democratic, but essentially sectional and sectarian 
in its nature. This spirit has not been extinguished in 
England, but it has been sensibly modified by the progressive 
community of ideas between all classes which it is the special 


mission of education to propagate, and which is specially 
characteristic of true Democracy. In an educated population 
like that of the United States, the conflict of races, of parties, 
or of commercial interests, may be as bitter as possible, but 
class-antipathies can never become internecine, because there 
are no permanent divisions of classes, and because all citizens 
have a common stock of ideas. 

4. But the operation of these and other general causes 
in furthering Democracy has been favoured by a negative 
condition which has not received sufficient attention. This 
condition is the internal decay of those forces which are 
essentially antagonistic to Democracy — Privilege, Authority, 
and Individuality. It is not only that Privilege, entrenched 
behind natural and artificial barriers, has been reduced to 
impotence by the destruction of these barriers ; or that Au- 
thority, assuming a divine right to command, has been met 
by a revolt of human reason ; or that Individuality has been 
weakened by the gravitation of modern life towards social, if 
not intellectual, equality. It is, also, that faith in any prin- 
ciples whatever has been impaired by the influence of that 
prevaiUng scepticism which has shaken religious belief, and 
penetrated into every other department of thought. Not 
many generations have elapsed since Englishmen were con- 
tent to brave torture or the stake rather than subscribe to 
some abstruse formula about the mysteries of religion which 
modern casuistry would cynically accept as unmeaning and 
therefore harmless. These men had the courage of their con- 
victions, but it is vain to expect the courage of their convic- 
tions from men who have no deep and fixed convictions, such 
as sustained the martyrs of old. Three centuries ago an 
Englishman of like passions with ourselves would give his 
body to be burned rather than affirm or deny transubstantia- 
tion or the royal supremacy ; it is now considered an almost 
heroic feat, as it is certainly a very rare feat, of political con- 
stancy for an English politician to refuse a seat in Parlia- 
ment, or give up office, rather than assent to measures which 
he privately condemns. Thus it happens that when once the 


popular will has declared itself, or is supposed to have de- 
clared itself — often on very slight evidence — it meets with no 
resisting power. If any one is found strong enough to stand 
against the stream, believing some things to be intrinsically 
right and others intrinsically wrong, he is stigmatised as 
' weak-kneed ' by his more pliable fellows, who have no 
earnest convictions at all, and thenceforth passes for a 
theorist or crotcheteer. In a word, that which in France 
is called ' opportunism,' has become the guiding law of 
modern politics, and opportunism is but another name for 
subservience to democratic absolutism. 

II. To enumerate all the symptoms of democratic progress 
in England would be a hopeless task, while some of them 
might be treated with equal propriety as causes. Of course, 
the most obvious instance of a change resulting, in part, 
from democratic pressure and contributing to strengthen that 
pressure, is the adoption of household suffrage, with the ballot, 
in borough constituencies. The effect of this change is felt 
in every borough election and in every parliamentary debate ; 
it has been the chief motive power in most subsequent re- 
forms, and the chief agent in the political education of the 
people. Bearing this in mind, we may, however, find it more 
instructive to observe those less patent signs of our own 
times which most clearly indicate the course of the demo- 
cratic movement in this generation, and its probable direc- 
tion in the next. 

1. Foremost among these must be mentioned the almost 
universal recognition of Promotion by Merit as the rule 
which should govern the whole public service, both civil and 
military. An exclusive, or at least a preferential claim, to 
fill the higher offices of the State, is a typical peculiarity of 
aristocracies. The old Eoman patricians bore with tolerable 
patience other encroachments on their privileges, but they 
denounced the opening of the great executive magistracies 
to plebeians as an insult to the gods themselves. The same 
notion is by no means extinct in Germany, and even in this 
country, but thirty years ago, the admission of candidates to 


the Civil Service and (still more) to the Army hy competitive 
examination was justly resented as the thin edge of the 
democratic wedge. This is not the place to review the 
gradual triumph of the new system, which has naturally 
kept pace with the development of education. Much remains 
to be done before it can truly be said that eminent ability, 
combined with force of character, will enable its possessor 
to attain success in England, but enough has been done 
to give the masses a salutary assurance that no door of 
preferment is now closed against them. There are probably 
few villages from which some labourer's son has not been 
raised to a higher station by his own capacity ; there is 
certainly no college in the universities where students who 
have risen from the ranks do not mix with young men of 
superior birth and wealth ; and within the next thirty years 
this healthy process of natural selection cannot fail to leaven 
the whole upper grade of English society. 

2. Another striking evidence — as it is also a cause — of 
democratic progress is the rapid multiplication of new elective 
bodies for purposes of local government since the Keform 
Act of 1832. The local institutions of our Anglo-Saxon 
forefathers were democratic enough, and even now there is 
perhaps less of popular self-government in country districts 
than there was for centuries before, and for some time after, 
the Norman conquest. But there is far more than there was 
in the last century, or even in the early part of the present 
century, when the whole conduct of county business and 
parochial affairs was legally or actually in the hands of 
magistrates nominated by the Crown. The successive crea- 
tion of elective Town Councils, Boards of Guardians, High- 
way Boards, Sanitary Boards, and School Boards, represents 
so many important changes in the reconstruction of popular 
self-government. Hitherto the working classes have taken 
much less interest in local than in parliamentary elections, 
but their interest is yearly increasing, and in the meantime 
a far more practical concern for their well-being is shown by 
local governing bodies. A notable feature of this democratic 


revival in local government is the growing popularity of 
Permissive Bills, to be applied at the discretion of the local 
authorities. A similar tendency in ecclesiastical politics is 
shown in the congregationalist movement, which has strangely 
allied itself with the ritualistic movement within the State 
Church itself. The very contrary was anticipated by De 
Tocqueville, who predicted a sacrifice of local, no less than 
of individual, independence to . centralisation in England, 
as elsewhere, on th6 ground that all Democracies crave for 
uniformity in administration, and that central governments 
are only too ready to grant it because it saves them all the 
trouble of studying local requirements. He little foresaw the 
democratic counter-currents which have brought about the 
demand for Home Eule in Ireland, and for the settlement 
of great questions, like the liquor traffic, by a local plebiscite. 
Probably he was misled by a confusion between the love of 
equality and the love of uniformity, possibly he did not allow 
enough for the English preference of liberty to equahty ; at 
all events, experience shows that democratic forces in this 
country do not set entirely in the direction of centralisation. 

3. There is another sense, however, in which the inter- 
vention of the central government is being more and more 
involved to compass democratic ends. The mass of the people 
have discovered that a resort to imperial legislation and the 
powerful machinery of imperial administration is the shortest 
and readiest method of getting a public benefit secured or a 
pubhc abuse redressed. Hence the measures which have 
placed the Poor Law and National Education and Charitable 
Endowments under the superintendence of a central board ; 
which have transferred the management of County Gaols to 
the Home Office ; which have brought Factories, Mines, 
Shipping and Emigi-ation, more or less, under the control 
of Government Departments ; which have established National 
Savings Banks, and which have charged the State with the 
duty of guarding the health not only of British citizens, but 
of British cattle. Democratic centralisation of this kind is 
sometimes quite legitimate, and impUes no vulgar jealousy 


of local independence. Most of the functions now assigned 
to central boards can be discharged more efficiently and with 
less waste of power by such boards than by local authorities, 
and would long ago have been thus assigned had not the 
people mistrusted a central executive mainly conducted by 
the Crown and the aristocracy. Since the central executive 
has come to reflect the will of the people, there is no longer 
any motive for this jealousy, and the people find it convenient 
to superintend many of their own affairs through officials in 
Downing Street. 

But it is vain to conceal from ourselves that democratic 
centralisation has another source in the wide diffusion of 
socialistic ideas. This is the most formidable symptom of 
democratic progress, as it is also the most novel. No essential 
connection exists between Socialism and democratic institu- 
tions. Great inequalities of fortune were tolerated in the 
Greek and Italian republics, and seem to excite little jealousy 
in the United States. There vast capitals are often amassed 
by plundering the public, while the very simplicity of domestic 
life favours accumulation, yet there is little trace of socialistic 
legislation. In England, on the contrary, the principle of 
Socialism was introduced into legislation by the Poor Law 
long before democratic forces were in the ascendant. Socialism 
is not a product of Democracy, but modern Socialism and 
modern Democracy are both fostered, to some extent, by the 
same industrial conditions. A very lucid explanation of this 
fact is given by M. de Laveleye in his admirable essay on 
'Democracy and Political Economy.' He there shows how 
the same economical causes which promote social equality 
also give birth to hostility between masters and workmen. 
In proportion as machinery facilitates the organisation of 
industry on the grandest scale, and cheapens necessaries as 
well as luxuries, it widens and deepens the gulf which sepa- 
rates capital from labour. The caste-like immobility of classes 
which prevailed in the Middle Ages has passed away with 
serfdom, trade privileges, and the regulation of wages by 
custom or Act of Parliament ; but the unlimited competition 


•which has succeeded it has introduced a struggle for existence 
unknown in the olden times. 

' This general competition is the cause of all progress, the 
mainspring of industrial activity, the source of our power ; 
but it produces, too, an incessant agitation, a permanent 
restlessness, an universal sense of instability. No one is 
content with his lot ; no one is sure of to-morrow. The rich 
man desires to accumulate more riches ; he who lives by 
labour trembles for his very livelihood. . . . Economical pro- 
gress has emancipated artisans from all disabilities; it has 
rescued them from the bonds of trade-guilds; it has raised 
their wages and improved their condition ; but, at the same 
time, it forms them into a class by themselves, massing them 
in vast bodies into enormous factories and fixed centres; it 
has given them new wants, and it has exposed them, without 
protection or security, to all the fluctuations of business, so 
often turned upside-down by the revolutions of industry, the 
crisises of trade, and the stagnation of the markets.' 

Yet the franchise must be extended to all. 

' You give the power of choosing legislators, and so of 
making laws, to men who have no property, and whose wages 
are inevitably forced downwards to a minimum representing 
the bare necessaries of life. You proclaim a legal equality, 
and the actual inequality which continues to exist causes 
more suffering, and becomes more irritating than ever.' 

The immense circulation of Mr. Henry George's ' Progress 
and Poverty ' is an instructive commentary on these words, 
published five years ago. It is true that Socialism has httle 
hold in the United States, and is dnectly at variance with 
the best tendencies of Democracy, but it is zealously advo- 
cated by the democratic Press in Europe, and is likely to 
be stimulated by the advance of Democracy in England for 
many years to came. 

Though Socialistic ideas have taken deeper root on the 
Continent than in England, it is to be feared that England 
has special reason to guard against their propagation. The 
greatest weakness of party government, as it exists in this 


country, is the proneness of one party to bid against the 
other for democratic support, and it would not be difficult to 
show how many benevolent measures, containing the germ 
of Socialism, have recently owed their origin to this fatal 
competition. Of these, by far the most important and dis- 
astrous is the Irish Land Act of 1881. If the progress of 
Democracy should involve further and further applications 
of that evil precedent to agrarian and commercial relations, 
the national character will assuredly become demoralised ; 
State protection will usurp the place of self-help, and in the 
vain attempt to redress inequality by Act of Parliament we 
may end by quenching that spirit of liberty to which England 
owes so much, not only of its present greatness, but of its 
capacity for a truly democratic civilisation. 

4. A fourth and more hopeful symptom of advancing 
Democracy is the far more active and intelligent part taken 
in elections by the mass of the people, who in too many 
boroughs had been passive material in the hands of self-elected 
committees, or cliques of local busybodies. The so-called 
Caucus system is rather the expression than the cause of 
this activity, which is shown in the greater frequency of 
political meetings, and even in the curious growth of mimic 
Parhaments on the model of the House of Commons. But 
the Caucus system has assuredly done much to stimulate and 
to consolidate democratic organisation, giving a new political 
life to some of our more sluggish constituencies. In this it 
has been purely beneficial ; it is mischievous so far as it tends 
to crush out personal independence and converts the repre- 
sentative into the mere delegate. It is one thing for the 
numerical majority of electors to claim the right of choosing 
a candidate for themselves, and of ascertaining that his 
general views are in harmony with their own ; it is another 
to insist on dictating his vote on each particular measure, 
thereby annulling the grand advantage of representative 
government. Happily, this abuse of the Caucus system is 
likely to be checked by the natural good sense and inde- 
pendence of Englishmen ; meanwhile, the system itself is, at 


least, a proof of a healthy democratic interest in national 

5. But the influence of democratic tendencies is equally 
manifest within the walls of Parliament itself. Lord Pal- 
merston was not far wrong in surmising that, if the franchise 
were lowered, the actors of the political drama would probably 
remain much the same as before, but that they would play to 
the gallery, instead of to the pit and boxes. Several men of 
rough democratic fibre have forced their way into the House 
of Commons, but on the whole birth and wealth seem to hold 
their own in the open market of electioneering. The differ- 
ence is that every question is discussed with a special regard 
for the claims and feelings of the million, sometimes verging 
upon undisguised popularity-hunting. Hence the protectionist 
spirit which has reappeared in Parliamentary debates. Whether 
it be the grievances of the Highland crofters, or the extension 
of polling hours to suit the convenience of labourers, or the 
abolition of imprisonment for debt, or Sunday closing, or 
any other subject which touches working-class sympathies, a 
sensitive anxiety is now shown to propitiate the poorest voters 
which used to be reserved for the prejudices of territorial 
aristocracy and commercial plutocracy. The same tender 
solicitude for the comfort of the many, as against the privi- 
leges of the few, may be traced even in such comparatively 
trifling matters as the recent erection of street-refuges for 
the security of foot-passengers, and recent arrangements for 
the more popular enjoyment of royal parks. This deference 
to ' Demos,' as Aristophanes called it, may be carried, as we 
have seen, to socialistic extremes, but it is often dictated by 
motives not far removed from that paramount concern for 
the greatest happiness of the greatest number which ought 
to be the first rule of statesmanship. There is a striking 
passage in Mr. Trevelyan's 'Early Days of Charles James 
Fox,' where he shows how intense is the sentiment of oligar- 
chical freemasonry, and how closely it is brought home to 
each member of such an exclusive society as then governed 
England. Sometimes an honest statesman might be sup- 


ported by this sentiment against the civium ardor pravajuben- 
tium ; but, in the main, it must surely be safer and better for 
politicians to rely, as they now must, on the good opinion, 
not of a caste or a class, but of a much larger public, almost 
co-extensive with the nation. 

6. On the other hand, we cannot expect the same delicacy 
or sense of honour from those who are studying to please 
small tradespeople, artisans, and day-labourers, as from those 
who obey the unwritten code of cultivated and refined circles. 
The experience of ancient Greece and Eome proves that 
chivalry may attain perfection under a republican govern- 
ment, but it certainly does not flourish nowadays in an 
atmosphere of social equality, or among persons chiefly en- 
gaged in mercantile competition. Noblesse oblige is a maxim 
which finds no response in the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. 
Hence the admitted decline of gentlemanlike feeling and 
manners in the House of Commons which Mr. Bright has 
not shrunk from pointing out, and which is most conspicuous 
in a large section of the Irish members. We are bluntly 
warned by a Radical publicist that the House of Commons 
must ' become the worst club in London, if it is to be a 
faithful mirror of popular political sentiment,' and the remark 
is too forcibly confirmed by the example of the American and 
colonial legislatures. In this country the name of gentleman 
is still held in honour, but conduct unworthy of a gentleman 
is no longer condemned as it used to be by the House of 
Commons itself, and public opinion is not in advance of 
Parliamentary sentiment. Indeed, it appears that vulgarity 
of tone is rather aggravated in England by that fierce light 
of publicity, gathered into a focus by ' society papers,' which 
now beats, not on thrones only, but on every transaction of 
private life. This is among the least amiable symptoms of 
democratic progress, but it is, unhappily, not the least cha- 

III. Such being the general causes, and the chief symp- 
toms, of democratic progress, we have to consider what 
attitude a far-sighted statesman ought to assume towards 


it, apart from the view which he may adopt on particular 
articles of the democratic programme. And, first, let us 
dismiss once for all the absurd and unworthy notion that 
Democracy must be welcomed because, forsooth, its progress 
is decreed by Political Necessity. No illusion has been so 
potent or so mischievous in its effect on statesmanship as 
this metaphysical bugbear, peculiar to modern thought, of 
PoUtical Necessity. The ancients held that man was often 
the sport of a cruel Destiny, but that Destiny was supposed 
to be superhuman, and was practically excluded from their 
calculations. It has been reserved for modern political philo- 
sophers to cower before a destiny of their own invention — an 
idol which is created by public opinion in its own image, and 
of which those who bow down to it individually form a part. 
If people had but the nerve to brave the consequences 
of defying a destiny of this kind, and acting on the far 
sounder belief that ' man is man, and master of his fate,' it 
would often turn out that what had been mistaken for an 
irresistible stream of Political Necessity was nothing but a 
movement got* up by a small band of doctrinaires, and capable 
of being stopped by a very moderate display of energy and 
self-sacrifice. If, then, such were the character of the demo- 
cratic movement in England, if it depended for its success 
mainly upon those imaginary laws of Nature which are really 
within human control, it would be the duty of a true states- 
man to confront it boldly, and, should it appear mischievous, 
to oppose it vigorously. 

If, on the other hand, we have rightly interpreted the 
origin of this movement, we shall be compelled to recognise 
it as really irresistible in the political sense. It is irresistible 
in that sense, because it springs inevitably from causes, out- 
side the sphere of politics, which have broken down the old 
barriers separating nations and classes, sapped the convic- 
tions which upheld privilege and authority, revived, though 
in a worldlier form, the sense of common brotherhood first 
proclaimed by the Gospel, and opened up the vision of a 
higher comfort and culture for the toiling and suffering masses 


of mankind. No one pretends that it is possible to arrest the 
development of mechanical invention, of locomotion, of trade, 
or even of education, and, unless the development of these 
forces can be arrested, the march of Democracy cannot be 
arrested. The existing Parliament may refuse the franchise 
to agi'icultural labourers, but it cannot prevent agricultural 
labourers becoming more intelligent or more independent ; 
they must be enfranchised sooner or later, or their discontent 
will be a serious political danger, and, if they be enfranchised 
too late, the impulse given to Democracy will be all the 
greater. It was for this reason that De Tocqueville justly 
regarded the progress of Democracy as inevitable. He saw 
in it a political and social tendency inherent in the growth 
of modern civilisation, and he wisely set himself, not to 
preach against it, but to study its probable operation. 

It does not follow, however, that because the progress of 
Democracy may be inevitable, in England as elsewhere, it is 
therefore an unmixed benefit, still less that nothing can be 
done to direct it. A true friend of Democracy as it ought to 
be will not shut his eyes to the vices of Democracy as it is. 
He will not fail to observe that, in destroying many super- 
stitions and prejudices, it has put nothing in their place, and 
has encouraged a contempt for experience which bodes ill for 
the stability of democratic policy. Whatever his confidence 
in the people if left to follow their own convictions, he will not 
ignore the risk of their falling a prey to the arts of politicians 
trading upon their weaknesses and pandering to their passions. 
He may see reason to hope that Jack Cade would now fail 
to impose upon an audience of English working men, but 
he would not trust every constituency to reject Jack Cade's 
doctrines clothed in a socialist garb, and he knows that can- 
didates of infamous character have been the chosen favourites 
of the populace, not only in America and the colonies, but 
much nearer home. Whether or not he deplores the visible 
decay of dogmatic faith among the masses in Great Britain, 
he cannot but apprehend that a people which no longer feared 
God might cease to regard man, and that unrestrained self- 



ishness, rather than universal zeal for the public good, might 
result from a democratic regeneration of English society. 

It is right that all these misgivings should be laid to heart 
by those who appreciate, and aspire to guide, the progi-ess of 
Democracy in England. But it would be very wrong to let 
them obscure our view of those more favourable omens which 
justify, not political optimism, but a cheerful and courageous 
acceptance of the inevitable. Let us freely admit the beset- 
ting dangers and temptations of Democracy, but let us not 
forget the dangers and temptations which Democracy counter- 
acts. If we must needs mistrust democratic ideas of economi- 
cal justice, what shall we say of that system of taxation 
which, for want of democratic pressure, was the curse of 
France before the Eevolution ; and what of the Corn Laws 
and other commercial abuses which prevailed in this country 
until they were swept away by democratic pressure ? Sub- 
servience to mobs tends, no doubt, to lower the standard of 
political morality, but is subservience to courts less demoral- 
ising ; and were members of Parliament, after all, more high- 
minded in the lifetime of Sir Eobert Walpole, when there was 
no Democracy to flatter ? Many small, and some large, con- 
stituencies are doubtless tainted with corruption, but do not 
the vast majority of electors vote honestly ; and is not even 
the servile and venal residuum almost as pure as the select 
bodies which monopolised borough elections in the olden 
times ? The democratic Press of our own day may not be 
as moderate or scrupulous as we could desire, but can it be 
said that modern English journalism, as a whole, compares 
unfavourably with the coarse pamphleteering literature of 
which Swift and Junius produced the choicest specimens ; 
and have not the organs of sound political information been 
multiplied a hundred- or thousand-fold since the people have 
begun to read newspapers ? These are not irrelevant ques- 
tions ; they bear directly on the past history of democratic 
progress, which is the most trustworthy basis for a forecast 
of its future tendencies. The prospect of liberty so ample as 
that which Englishmen now enjoy would have alarmed timid 


reformers of the last century quite as much as the prospect 
of greater political and social equality alarms those of the 
present age. Yet England, notwithstanding the much greater 
scale and complexity of its national life, is practically much 
easier to govern at this moment than it was in the evil days 
of court intrigue and parliamentary bribery. It was easier 
to govern after the Reform Act of 1832 than before it, and 
it became easier still after the Eeform Act of 1867. Why 
should we doubt that future generations of English statesmen 
will learn to weather the admitted perils of advancing Demo- 
cracy as skilfully as their fathers weathered the perils of 
personal government and oligarchy, or that a new order of 
political virtues will be developed under new social condi- 
tions ? 

One thing is certain, that it requires a more thorough 
political training, and a larger range of political knowledge, 
to lead a democratic nation and an almost despotic House of 
Commons, than it did to govern England as Walpole and 
Pitt governed it. The business then conducted by depart- 
ments of State was comparatively simple, and a patrician 
Minister of no extraordinary capacity might well appear to 
stand a head and shoulders above the people, when so few 
took an active part in public affairs, and political life was 
still a close profession. Unless democratic progress is accom- 
panied by a constant growth in the political education of 
statesmen, government will assuredly become weaker and 
weaker to control popular impulses, and popular impulses, 
however genuine, can never be a safe regulator even of 
domestic policy, much less of imperial policy, so long as the 
masses are mainly engrossed by manual labour, and ignorant 
of nearly all that it concerns a statesman to know. Mr. 
Bright is fond of telling us that ' the people have no interest 
in wrong.' This is true, but it is equally true that mankind 
has no interest in vice or error. If human nature could be 
trusted to understand and pursue its own highest interests, 
without instruction or guidance, this world would indeed be 
a paradise, and we might do well to welcome the substitution 

N 2 


of plebiscites for responsible government. Unhappily, it is 
far otherwise, and the future of Democracy mainly depends 
on the willingness of the omnipotent people to be led by 
highly-trained and conscientious statesmen, on the future 
supply of such leaders, and on their willingness to serve the 
people upon such terms as Democracy will accept. 

Now, it may be fairly urged that, in proportion as the 
suffrage is extended and the governing classes recruited from 
below, the choice of materials for statesmanship will be in- 
creased, while the statesman will derive increased assistance 
from intelligent criticism. The men who now attain Cabinet 
oifice cannot be presumed to be the ablest politicians that 
Great Britain can produce, but only the ablest or most 
successful of those with leisure enough, fortune enough, and 
local interest enough to find seats in Parliament and force 
themselves into the front ranks. The progress of Democracy 
will open a larger field of selection, but wiU the multitude of 
electors avail themselves of it, choose the best candidates, and 
support the wisest statesmen ? This is a question on which 
no prudent man will offer a confident opinion, for here the 
results of English experience materially differ from the lesson 
taught by the experience of America and the Australian 

Hitherto, in this country, there have been few signs of a 
reluctance among men of high culture and social position to 
venture out on the open sea of politics, and not many signs 
of a reluctance in great popular constituencies to accept or 
even to prefer men of this type, when they can be induced 
to come forward. If such men are sometimes deterred from 
offering themselves, it is not so much by the display or the 
fear of democratic jealousy as by the covert opposition of 
short-sighted and self-seeking wirepullers, who delight to 
honour the plausible money-maker, perhaps equally destitute 
of public spirit or political capacity, since they have no other 
ideal of merit than success, and no other ideal of success than 
self-aggrandisement. No doubt, rich candidates sometimes 
buy seats by corrupting poor electors, but they have to con- 


duct their corrupt practices in secret, and an Act has just 
been passed, with the hearty approval of the pubUc, which 
cannot fail to hinder corrupt practices in future. No doubt, 
great popular audiences will always be prone to follow dema- 
gogues, and to be unduly swayed by rhetorical ability, but 
English demagogues seldom venture to court popularity by 
appeals to base passions or sentiments, and the larger the 
constituency, the higher, as a rule, is the general tone of 
electioneering speeches. Moreover, English society is not 
stratified in horizontal layers ; nor do the working classes 
form a solid phalanx or mystic brotherhood swayed by one 
imperious will. The better they are known, the more they 
are found to comprise an infinite variety of interests, habits, 
and opinions, among which strong patriotic and Conservative 
instincts are by no means wanting. If we looked to Great 
Britain alone, we might be tempted to await the progress of 
Democracy with little anxiety, and to rely on the extension 
of national education as an adequate security against any 
risk involved in a further extension of the suff'rage. But at 
this point we are rudely confronted with the experience of 
America and our own colonies. There barefaced appeals to 
selfishness, bordering on dishonesty, constantly win the con- 
fidence of large constituencies better educated, on the average, 
than our own ; and even personal integrity is by no means 
a qualification for political life. Let it be granted that Anglo- 
Saxon good sense, if not a higher principle, generally prevents 
these evil influences being carried to the extreme length of 
spoliation or rei^udiation ; still, the broad fact remains that, 
with the progress of Democracy, the standard of electoral 
purity and of public honour has apparently been lowered in 
highly-educated communities. Education alone, then, at 
least in its narrow sense, is no effectual safeguard against 
the perils of advancing Democracy. Nor have we a right to 
assume that England will long be protected against them by 
her precious inheritance of sound traditions, so far as these 
traditions are mere survivals of institutions which Democracy 
is breaking down. 


There is, however, another explanation of the contrast 
between the code of political morality recognised in England 
aiid that recognised in the United States or the colonies. 
These democratic communities have practically no foreign 
poUcy or imperial responsibilities, and politics are practically 
confined to conflicts and regulation of material interests. In 
this country, on the other hand, even the humblest elector 
is sometimes made to feel that he is a member of the great 
European family, and a partner in a world-wide empire, to 
govern which requires a wisdom beyond the shrewdness of a 
merchant or railway director. Moreover, new countries are 
far more emphatically ' nations of shopkeepers ' than England, 
having comparatively few citizens with leisure, independence, 
and social prestige enough to rise above mercenary interests, 
or even to dispense with a salary for serving in Parliament. 
The advantage which England enjoys, in this respect, may 
well be weighed by the coming Democracy against the ad- 
vantage of paying members, and thus openmg Parliament to 
needy adventurers as well as to needy patriots. 

At all events, our best hope for the future lies in cul- 
tivating and elevating the nobler conception of citizenship 
and statesmanship hitherto characteristic of England. No- 
thing but the maintenance of a high national character 
will avail to render the progress of Democracy conducive to 
national greatness or to national happiness. The standard 
of public virtue which may suffice for aristocratic government 
will not suffice for democratic government. The whole sphere 
of politics must be moralised, so to speak, and brought under 
the control of purer motives, if the more direct rule of the 
people in England is to be as successful as the older form 
of constitutional monarchy. If Democracy will not endure 
Privilege and Authority, it must learn to yield ungrudging 
loyalty to intellectual and moral ascendancy. If it is not to 
be actuated by a refined sense of honour, it must be actuated 
by a robust sense of duty. If it will not be controlled by any 
power independent of itself, it must deliberately erect barriers 
against its own autocracy, as, for instance, by a thorough recon 


struction of local government, and the delegation to local bodies 
of a much larger jurisdiction. The richer classes, on their part, 
must adopt the advice of M. de Laveleye, and combine plain 
living with high thinking and earnest work. The spirit of 
Christianity, democratic as it is, must be carried into political 
life, and the so-called laws of political economy must be recon- 
ciled with the dictates of benevolence, not by class legislation, 
but rather by the voluntary efforts of individuals and societies. 
Sociahsm must be combated, not by flinging away the rights 
of property, as sops to soothe the Socialistic Cerberus, but, on 
the contrary, by far-sighted measures favouring a more equal 
distribution of property, and making as many citizens as 
possible shareholders in the national prosperity. If the House 
of Lords is to be upheld, it must be reinforced with hfe-peers, 
and submit to such other modifications of its constitution as 
may convert it into an efficient and popular Second Chamber. 
If the Church is to be upheld, it must be made in fact, and 
not in name only, the Church of the people. 

Such counsels as these will not prevail, or will be adopted 
too late, if men fitted by nature and position to lead Demo- 
cracy cynically persist in holding aloof from politics. Electors 
cannot be justly blamed for mistaking copper for gold, if the 
gold is never offered for their acceptance. Nor can it be 
truly asserted of Democracy that it is the implacable foe of 
all superiority. It levels social and political inequalities, but 
it cannot level superiority of birth, of wealth, of intellect, of 
character, of energy, or of education ; on the contrary, it 
gives free scope to each of these, and often rewards its for- 
tunate possessor with unstinted homage. Science and art, 
literature and commerce, may and do flourish under the 
shelter of Democracy ; it rests with their leading representa- 
tives to moderate and ennoble Democracy by heartily asso- 
ciating themselves with the people. Let it never be forgotten 
that, come what may, the mighty engines of Education and 
the Press must always remain in the hands of men far above 
the multitude in mental culture, if not in social position. 
The Universities have already done much m England, and 


may yet do far more, to promote the sentiment of fraternity 
by which equahty should be consecrated. The London School 
Board, a standing example of unselfish public spirit, has 
appreciably humanised the dangerous classes of the metro- 
polis, not only by reclaiming the street Arabs, but also by 
establishing a bond of sympathy, and a common ground of 
public action, between the higher and lower strata of the vast 
London population. It is in this direction, and in this spirit, 
that we must continue to move patiently and fearlessly, if we 
are to ward off the violent shock of democratic revolution by 
the gradual process of democratic evolution. For the vices 
of Democracy are only to be subdued by a vigorous develop- 
ment of its virtues; and those only will have strength to 
control the democratic movement who honestly and heartily 
embrace the democratic ideal of society. 



The ' Nineteenth Century,' April 1884 

The progress of Democracy and the progress of Socialism are 
now habitually coupled with each other, not only in the current 
language of politics, but in the minds of statesmen and grave 
political writers. Yet it must not be assumed that both ten- 
dencies are equally inevitable and equally irresistible. The 
progress of Democracy, as De Tocqueville said above forty 
years ago, is ' the most constant, the most ancient, and the 
most permanent fact of history.' It is inevitable, because 
European society has long been shaping itself, as American 
society had shaped itself from the first, into a mould incon- 
sistent, not, indeed, with any other form, but with any other 
principle, of government. It is irresistible, because the in- 
fluences which favour it, such as the spread of education and 
the extension of locomotion, are perpetually gaining strength ; 
and because the influences opposed to it, such as the respect 
for Privilege and for Authority, are ever losing their hold on 
the reason of mankind. These propositions cannot be affirmed 
of ' Socialism ' in any among the various senses of which that 
most flexible term is capable. To analyse those senses would 
be worse than vain ; for none has yet acquired a fixed mean- 
ing. When, however, the progress of ' Socialism ' is regarded 
as inseparable from the progress of Democracy, a tolerably 
definite idea is usually attached to ' Socialism.' It is not 
meant that democratic progress involves a communistic parti- 
tion of wealth, or the abrogation of property as an institution ; 
nor is it only meant that democratic progress involves a 
benevolent and active concern for the greatest happiness of 
the greatest number. What is meant is that democratic 
progress involves a progressive revolution of social conditions, 


whether gradual or violent, towards greater equality in the 
distribution of wealth ; and that this equality is to be realised 
by means of State legislation and State control. The bolder 
apostles of State Socialism, and notably the Executive Com- 
mittee of the so-called ' Democratic Federation,' do not shrink 
from specifically formulating their claims. In a manifesto 
drawn up by their Chairman and Treasurer, and endorsed 
by the whole Committee, they insist upon the right and duty 
of the 'people,' whom they identify with the wage-earning 
class, to obtain control of the means of production, including 
the land, in every country. The labour of all is to be organ- 
ised collectively for the benefit of all : the State is to 
appropriate the land, apparently without compensation ; to 
take over and work the railways and the shipping; to own 
all mines, factories, and workshops, managing them through 
superintendents chosen by the operatives ; to substitute 
National Banks for private banks ; and to replace shops 
by ' State and Communal Centres of Distribution.' Other 
advocates of State Socialism are less self-confident or less 
outspoken ; but it may safely be said that a more equal distri- 
bution of wealth to be produced by the direct interference 
of Government with individual action is the popular ideal 
of that Socialism which is conceived as the twin-sister of 
Democracy. Let us, then, consider how far the democratic 
movement, which all must recognise, actually runs in this 
direction ; how far counter-forces, antagonistic to Socialism, are 
likely to be strengthened by this very movement ; and how 
far it may be possible by a wise policy to guide the current 
of Democracy into a less perilous channel. 

And, first, it is important to distinguish between various 
classes of measures loosely described as Socialistic by those 
who detect the cloven foot of Socialism in every legislative 
restriction of individual liberty. From the point of view 
adopted by the Liberty and Property Defence League, and 
more or less sanctioned by Mr. Herbert Spencer's Philosophy, 
a very large proportion of the Acts passed in recent years 
must be regarded as Socialistic in their character. Not 


merely the Irish Land Acts of 1870 and 1881, the Arrears 
Act, the Ground Game Act, and the Agricultural Holdings 
Act, but the Settled Estates Act of 1876, and the Settled 
Land Act of 1882, must be relegated into this category, since 
they all Hmit the freedom of landowners in dealing with their 
property. The same must be said of the many Acts regu- 
lating Shipping, Mines, Factories, the Liquor Traffic, and 
Labourers' Dwellings. In aU these cases freedom of contract 
is invaded, while Education Acts curtail the right of parents 
to keep their children in ignorance. Adulteration Acts super- 
sede the old maxim of caveat emptor in the purchase of com- 
modities. Sanitary Acts override the independence of private 
households for the sake of the public health, while professions 
are harassed by such rules as are contained in the Medical 
Acts, the Dentists' Act, the Solicitors' Remuneration Act, 
the Veterinary Surgeons' Act, and the Pedlars' Act, not to 
speak of the Employers' Liability Act, which covers almost 
the whole field of manufacturing and mercantile enterprise. 
Whatever objection may be raised against any one of these 
measures, it is clear that, if all be condemned as Socialistic, 
hardly any sphere will be left for the legitimate action of Law 
and Government. Moreover, a very little reflection will show, 
not only that some differ very widely, in principle, from 
others, but that some are, while others are not, in harmony 
with the prevailing spirit of Democracy. 

Take, for example, the Sanitary Acts, under which it may 
be said that rates mainly paid by the upper and middle 
classes are expended upon objects which mainly benefit the 
poor. There is nothing really Socialistic in the principle of 
these Acts, the demand for which has been justified by the 
failure of isolated individual action to provide effectually for 
drainage and water-sui)ply. In old times, every man was 
held responsible for nuisances arising from his own neglect, 
but this liability was found to be wholly inadequate even for 
the prevention of nuisances, while it left untouched all the 
positive sanitary requirements of great urban ^copulations 
massed together under modern conditions. Hence the neces- 


sity of doing by collective municipal action that which must 
otherwise have remained undone, or been done at a prodigi- 
ously greater cost ; and if the poor have incidentally reaped 
greater advantage than the rich, so much the better, for no 
one is damnified thereby. The principle of the Education 
Acts is different, but not more essentially Socialistic. It does 
not rest on the duty of the rich to supply the poor with 
educational necessaries; but rather on the interest of the 
State in reducing the sources of pauperism and crime. It 
has scarcely been contended that the humbler classes have a 
right to get their children taught at the expense of other 
classes ; but rather that, if popular education is a State 
necessity, and if indigent parents are compelled to forego their 
children's earnings during the school age, at the bidding of 
the law, schooling must be given free, or at a minimum cost. 
Thus, both the Sanitary Acts and the Education Acts, what- 
ever may be said against them, are founded on reasons of 
public utility, and not on the principle of equalising the lota 
of the higher and lower classes in the community. The 
various Acts passed for the protection of women and children 
against excessive labour, or of grown men against certain 
forms of oppression and temptation, may or may not be 
defensible on grounds of policy, and may or may not conduce 
to manly independence in the national character. But they 
cannot properly be called Socialistic, inasmuch as they were 
not dictated by a desire to promote the Socialistic ideal of 
equaUty ; but rather, as Mr. Goschen points out, by a revul- 
sion of the national conscience against the moral results of 
the laissez-faire system, left to operate uncontrolled. When 
the public clamours for legislation to preserve the lives of 
miners or sailors against preventible accidents, it is not with 
the idea of disturbing the distribution of profits between 
labour and capital, but only of putting a stop to a scandalous 
waste of human life. Even the Irish Land Act, Socialistic 
as it is both in its principle and in its practical effect, was 
not openly advocated on Socialistic grounds. The motive 
power which carried it was, no doubt, Socialistic ; but the 


majority of its Parliamentary supporters were made to believe 
that it was necessary in order to rectify the consequences of 
former injustice. Indeed, however clear the germs of Socialism 
may be discerned in many recent statutes passed under a 
democratic impulse, it would be difficult to specify one which 
is distinctively Socialistic, unless it be the Poor Law itself, 
or the Act which exempts small incomes from the incidence 
of the Income Tax. Both these exceptions are defensible, in 
the opinion of most sound economists ; but they are far more 
Socialistic in essence than such measures as the Factory 
Laws or the Merchant Shipping Acts. 

It does not follow, however, that Democracy, even in this 
country, is not Socialistic in its tendencies and aspirations. 
In his posthumous chapters on Socialism, written in 1869, 
Mr. J. S. Mill records a salutary warning against judging of 
Household Suffrage by the fruits of the first one or two elec- 
tions after its adoption. Until the new electors learned to 
realise and to exercise their power, little change was per- 
ceptible either in the quality of the candidates or in the 
nature of the pledges demanded of them. In both these 
respects, the progress of Democracy, aided by that of popular 
education, has now made itself felt ; it will make itself more 
powerfully felt when household suffrage is extended to the 
counties, and the connection between modern Democracy and 
Socialism is rapidly acquiring an altogether new significance 
for an English statesman. For it would be very unsafe to 
imagine that working men, now admitted on equal terms into 
the governing class, and commanding a numerical majority 
of votes, will long abstain from using those votes for the 
purpose of furthering whatever objects they may have at 
heart. The important question is whether these objects are, 
after all, Socialistic, or whether English Democracy, unlike 
that of the Continent, will reject the phantom of communistic 
equality, and embrace the surer but less seductive hope of 
social regeneration which is offered alike by Christianity and 
by Liberalism. 

Looking simply at the external causes which have favoured 


the spread of modern Socialism, we must confess that most 
of them operate with peculiar intensity in England. Nowhere 
else is the contrast more appalling between the lot of Dives 
and the lot of Lazarus, and nowhere else is this contrast so 
emphasised and stereotyped as it is by the English institution 
of Primogeniture, with all its far-reaching consequences. In 
no other country is the gulf between manufacturer and work- 
man more impassable, or the class-prejudices of workmen 
more liable to be stimulated by their aggregation into great 
factories and their visible separation both from the mercantile 
aristocracy and from the bourgeoisie. In no other country 
have the small working employers and other intermediate 
links between capital and labour been more nearly crushed 
out by the development of industrial organisation. In no 
other do so few husbandmen own the lands which they culti- 
vate ; in no other is landed property concentrated in the 
hands of a territorial aristocracy so small numerically and so 
constantly decreasing. No other Legislature has adopted and 
applied Free Trade doctrines so consistently as our own, 
whereas no other body of workpeople in Europe have carried 
the system of Trade-Unionism to such perfection as the 
English. For these and similar reasons, it might have been 
predicted that Socialistic doctrines were hkely to find a con- 
genial soil in the bosom of the English Democracy, and that 
Karl Marx and Lassalle, Fourier and Louis Blanc, would 
number hosts of readers, if not hosts of disciples, among the 
more thoughtful of English Eadicals. 

If such is not the fact — if Democracy in England has 
been hitherto less tinged with Socialism than in any other 
European country — the explanation must be sought in certain 
permanent characteristics of English society which afford a 
solid ground of hope for the future. However unequal the 
distribution of wealth may have been in England, the national 
sense of humanity and justice has ever been kept alive and 
quick to redress every ascertained grievance. When the pro- 
gress of enclosure and other economical changes reduced the 
English peasant to a day-labourer, it was at once felt that 


his maintenance in the last resort must be undertaken by the 
community. The EngHsh Poor Law, to which there is no 
parallel in foreign legislation, has established a chronic and 
statutable kind of Socialism in our internal economy which 
has acted as an almost sovereign antidote to acute and revo- 
lutionary Socialism. Wlienever a grievous case of oppression 
or hardship has been made out, a special law has been passed 
to remedy it, with a cynical disregard of symmetry or juri- 
dical science, but with an earnest desire to give every class a 
fair chance in the race of life. Again, the glaring disparity of 
fortune and worldly advantages between rich and poor has 
never been aggravated by caste-like divisions, while it has 
been greatly mitigated by kindly intercourse and charitable 
sympathy. Since the Eeformation, the clergy of the Esta- 
blished Church have ceased to be a sacerdotal order, and, 
whatever their shortcomings, have done much to relieve the 
sufferings and to plead the cause of the poor, herein reflecting 
the genuine spirit of Christianity itself. Without the Poor 
Law, without the immense expansion of English charity, both 
public and private, and without the levelling influences of 
religion penetrating all classes, it is certain that Socialism 
would be far more threatening in England than it is at 

It would be easy to enumerate other reasons why Socialism 
has as yet assumed a far less formidable and organised aspect 
in England than on the Continent. Where the right of 
public meeting is unlimited, or limited only by the require- 
ments of public order, conspiracy gives place to open dis- 
cussion and association. Where the Press is free, wild 
projects can be propounded without reserve, but are at once 
subjected to an intelligent criticism, which puts their sup- 
porters to shame. Where the ambition of rising in social 
position is general, and the competitive system is firmly 
established in education as well as in the public service, the 
solidarity of the so-called proletariat, as well as of the so-called 
bourgeoisie, is greatly impaired, and the hostility of manual 
to intellectual labour is sensibly neutralised. Where military 



enlistment is voluntary and conscription unknown, one of the 
strongest motives for reorganising society in the interest of 
labour has no existence. Where Provident and Friendly 
Societies, Building Societies and Trades-Unions, number six 
miUions of members, and own funds amounting to 68,000,000L, 
the obstacles to a Communistic scheme of plunder become 
extremely serious, and the most sanguine of its apostles may 
well shrink from provoking a contest with the possessors of 
property. Where the privacy and independence of family life 
are a national tradition, shared even by those whose family 
domicile is a single room, men do not so readily band them- 
selves into revolutionary brotherhoods, or submit to such 
rules as Socialistic organisation would impose. Where country 
labourers have long been accustomed to see neighbours 
migrate or emigrate from their native villages, and town opera- 
tives are constantly shifting their abodes in order to better 
themselves, the basis of a Socialistic Commune would be 
liable to constant disturbance. Where joint-stock enterprise 
and co-operative associations are widely diffused, enabling the 
smallest capitals to be profitably employed, the chasm between 
capitalist and labourer is already bridged over, and little is 
left for Socialism to promise except sheer confiscation. Where 
the love of games and field-sports creates a friendly tie 
between young men of all ranks in the country, and the squire 
has usually a kind word for the ploughman, it is hard to 
develop that intense hatred of gentlefolk which inspired the 
great revolts of peasants in the Middle Ages, and which still 
forms in some parts of Ireland a prime motive of agrarian 

But it is needless to multiply instances of the natural 
forces hostile to Socialism in England. Though English 
society doubtless appears at first sight to be rigidly stratified 
' in horizontal layers,' these layers are crossed by so many 
vertical sections, and the whole mass is so welded together 
by the manifold action of a genuine national life, intensified 
by the labours and struggles of centuries, that attempts to 
set class against class never fail to encounter very powerful 


obstacles. Even the minor contests between masters and 
men in respect of wages are beginning to be settled by arbi- 
tration, and not even the most internecine strike or lock-out 
can long dissolve the many other bonds, apart from trade 
disputes, which unite fellow-citizens to each other. The 
leaders of the belligerent forces may be members of the same 
religious congregation ; they may be of the same political 
party, and have actively co-operated m the last Parliamentary 
election ; they may be serving on the same local committee, 
or equally interested in the same local improvement. On the 
other hand, the essential differences between the ideas and 
interests of town and country — always a Conservative safe- 
guard — are reinforced in these islands by a singular diversity 
of race, manners, and character between different parts of 
the United Kingdom, and even of England itself. If Socialism 
means uniformity under the guidance of a central power, it 
is probable that English Democracy will be very slow in 
moulding itself into such a type. A long process of education 
must surely be required before it can assimilate the ideas and 
acquire the habits necessary to unlearn the lesson of self- 
government. Perhaps in the course of this process it may 
discover that, after all, tlje true line of Democratic progress 
lies in an exactly opposite direction. For the most jjowerful 
barrier against Socialism in this country has been the national 
spirit of personal and constitutional liberty, entrenched behind 
so many outworks of law and custom. This spirit, inherited 
from the institutions of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, has been 
fostered by Protestantism, by commercial and maritime en- 
terprise, by the tenacity of home-life among rural labourers 
inhabiting detached cottages, by the immense variety of in- 
dustries among town-artisans, and by the absence of con- 
scription or any other form of compulsory service. The 
typical Englishman, even of the humbler classes, has an in- 
stinctive sense of personal rights, and an instinctive jealousy 
of over-regulation. He may become a member of a trades- 
union, as he may join a political union, for the purpose of 
obtaining some object which he values ; but he is generally 


reluctant to part with his own freedom of action, and well 
pleased to resume it. He is ready, of course, to receive bene- 
fits at the hands of ' Government ' ; but in his inmost heart 
he distrusts ' Government,' as an engine sure to be worked 
by officials at headquarters, over whom he can have no prac- 
tical control. 

This difference in sentiment between foreign and English 
champions of labour has not failed to display itself at Inter- 
national Congresses of workmen, and was specially marked 
at the Congress of last year in Paris. Hitherto, English 
Democracy, so far as it was represented at these gatherings, 
has committed itself to no wild schemes of social regeneration 
by means of State agency. On the contrary, the leading Eng- 
lish delegates have warmly supported the counter-scheme of 
so organising the forces of labour throughout Europe that it 
may be able to make its own terms with capital in the open 
field of competition. Nor is there any reason to suppose that 
Socialistic clubs, such as abound in France, Germany, and 
Switzerland, are either numerous or influential in England. 
Of course, associations of this kind do not court publicity, 
but, if they had been important enough to be a power in any 
constituency, serious attempts would assuredly have been 
made to force Socialistic pledges on candidates at the last 
General Election. No doubt London shelters hundreds of 
Socialistic and even Nihilistic conspirators, but they mostly 
consist of foreign refugees, and we have as yet no evidence 
of their doctrines having taken any serious hold on the minds 
of our own working classes? Though a resolution demanding 
the so-called Nationalisation of Land was passed by a small 
meeting at the Trades-Union Congress of 1882, it was virtually 
rescinded by another meeting at the Trades-Union Congress 
of last year, in favour of an amendment simply affirming the 
necessity of radical changes in the land system for the benefit 
of the people at large. The Democratic Federation goes 
further, and makes the nationalisation of land an essential 
part of its programme ; but we have yet to learn the strength 
of this arrogant body, and it is more than probable that a 


premature attempt to link Democracy with Socialism in an 
appeal to English householders would end in a signal defeat 
at the poll. 

It would be a grave error, however, to measure the ad- 
vance of Socialistic opinion in England by the feebleness of 
its public demonstrations. If English working men have 
only coquetted with the International and other revolutionary 
leagues which have risen from its ashes, it is to be feared that 
vast numbers of them have lent a ready ear to Mr. Henry 
George's project for confiscating the entire soil of the country 
without compensation. If they have wisely declined to stake 
the practical interests of industry upon the success of any 
untried scheme for reconstituting society, they are now being 
encouraged to regard the State as an instrument for giving 
them special advantages at the expense of other classes. There 
can hardly be a better illustration of the crude economical 
theories now becoming current under the name of State 
SociaHsm than the growing demand for State interference, 
not merely to regulate, but to construct and let out, dwellings 
for the poor in London and other great towns. In this case, 
as Mr. Goschen points out, nearly all the reasons which are 
supposed to justify State Socialism have combined to produce 
the demand : ' a public sense of moral responsibility, dissatis- 
faction with the present distribution of wealth, complications 
arising from the crowded state of society, and the belief that 
Government is the only deus ex machind to solve an almost 
insoluble problem.' Mr. Goschen agrees with Lord Salisbury 
that the principle of laissez-faire cannot be pleaded against 
the right of the State to abate this evil, and that, considering 
how many of its causes are artificial, if not State-created, the 
State may justly deal with the ownership of house property 
in certain overcrowded districts as ' a virtual monopoly,' and 
with the rents thereof as ' monopoly rents,' to be valued at 
less than a market-price in the event of compulsory sale. Mr. 
Fawcett goes nearly as far in the same direction, but neither 
he nor Mr. Goschen is prepared to countenance the proposal 
that improved dwellings for the poor should be erected out 

o 2 


of public funds. This proposal is not in itself Socialistic. If 
it were shown that house-building on a large scale could be 
carried out more efficiently by Imperial or municipal autho- 
rities than by private individuals, and if the rents to be 
charged were inexorably fixed so as fully to cover the cost 
of building and maintenance, there would be no more objec- 
tion — in principle — to State lodging-houses than to State 
post-offices and savings-banks. But this is not what is con- 
templated in the Socialistic claim of Government aid for the 
accommodation of , poor families in great towns. What is 
contemplated is that either the Imperial or the local Govern- 
ment should directly or indirectly provide such accommoda- 
tion at a rent below the sum required to pay interest and 
replace capital. The deficiency must needs be made good 
either out of rates or out of taxes ; and both of these are paid 
in great part by persons with small incomes, little above the 
struggling class on whose behalf this claim is made- If the 
State lodging-houses were rate-supported, and were also fully 
rated, many a poor man would thus lose nearly as much in 
rates as he would gain in rent ; if they were not fully rated, 
their occupants would be shifting a portion of their own bur- 
dens upon the shoulders of their less privileged, and perhaps 
not richer, neighbours. 

But this is not all. The moment it was known that com- 
fortable dwellings were being let at a minimum rent in a 
given district, a fresh tide of immigration would set towards 
that district, and the most stringent restrictions against the 
reception of lodgers would be needed to i^revent worse over- 
crowding than before. Even as it is, the population of the 
East End is swelled and demoralised by the indiscriminate 
relief dispensed there in response to sensational appeals, and 
— though it is a hard saying — the sympathetic public may 
be as much to blame as extortionate landlords and employers 
for the misery of dockyard labourers and match-box makers. 
Such is the inference to be drawn from the statistics of 
destitution in towns which ai overstocked with charitable 
endowments, and such is the conclusion to which some of 


the best friends of the East-End poor have been led by their 
own experience. But here we are brought face to face with 
Bastiat's favourite antithesis between ' that which is seen ' 
and 'that which is not seen.' That which is seen is the 
heart-breaking distress and widespread immorahty prevailing 
under the present laissez-faire system — evils which might be 
largely reduced by a vigorous enforcement of existing laws 
based on the sound principle of individual responsibility. 
That which is not seen is the probable reproduction of these 
evils, in a more complicated form, if the State should under- 
take to house some of its poorer citizens at the expense of all 
the rest— thereby weakening the sense of individual respon- 
sibility among the owners of property, discouraging the spirit 
of self-help among the industrious poor, and reviving the evil 
traditions of class-legislation. And all this in order to root 
in the soil of certain metropolitan districts a favoured group 
of families much larger than can be decently supported by 
the ordinary rate of employment in those districts. Here we 
have Socialism in its least defensible form — the claim that 
' Society,' which has nothing to do with bringing children 
into the world, shall guarantee to each and all of those who 
may choose to live on a given spot a comfortable lodging on 
that spot, imposing a tax on the more provident and in- 
dustrious members of the community to save the residuum 
from the alternative of emigration or the workhouse. 

True it is that no demand so preposterous has yet 
been embodied in any Democratic programme issued by any 
respectable body. Still, it is not only ' in the air,' but has 
been so thoroughly popularised in articles and speeches, that 
a more robust faith in economical principles than has lately 
been shown will be needed to prevent its becoming a hustings 
question. The successful propagation of Mr. George's doc- 
trines is even more startling. Here is a grave proposal for 
relieving from taxation all other classes in the community by 
confiscating, without compensation, the property of one class, 
either openly or, as Mr. Goldwin Smith describes it, ' under 
the thin disguise of a predatory use of the taxing power.' 


This sweeping measure is to embrace all kinds of landed 
property — the great hereditary estate and the most recent 
purchase of the Manchester cotton-spinner — the broad acres 
of millionaires and the little freehold reclaimed from the 
common, or acquired through a building society by the saving 
artisan — the land which owes its value solely to gifts of 
Nature, and that which owes its value solely to improvements 
executed by its possessor. How this is to be effected without 
civil war, and how so vast a system of land agency is to be 
carried on honestly, by any Government hitherto devised, are 
questions too practical to occupy the attention of those who 
discourse glibly on the ' Nationalisation of Land.' It is as- 
sumed that land, however acquired, differs so essentially from 
all other kinds of wealth, however acquired, that its possession 
can justly be treated as robbery. It is assumed that all the 
millions now received by landowners from agricultural rents, 
or ground-rents of houses in towns, are absorbed unprofitably, 
like Cleopatra's pearl, and not expended, to a great extent, in 
employing productive labour. It is assumed, otherwise, that 
if the State were to pocket all these incomes, and apply them 
to a reduction of taxation, it could also, on the principle of 
eating cake and having it, apply them, as before, to employing 
the same amount of productive labour — for, if it could not, the 
labourers formerly paid out of the landownei''s rent would 
hardly be the gainers. It is assumed that a Land Depart- 
ment, with a staff of salaried officials manipulating a colossal 
revenue, would be proof against temptations of jobbery, and 
manage its affairs better than individual proprietors. It is 
assumed that full rents would be exacted for the relief of the 
general taxpayer, and yet that farm-tenants would somehow 
obtain benefits involving a remission of rent. Such are 
specimens of the presumptions and assumptions underlying 
the popular conception of Mr. George's scheme, if they do not 
underlie the scheme itself. We have nothing here to do with 
the various economical paradoxes incidental to it, such as the 
independent capacity of Labour to maintain itself without the 
aid of Capital. What is really memorable is the simple fact 


that an eloquent book, which is understood to justify whole- 
sale spoliation, and ignores the most patent objections founded 
on the reason and experience of mankind, should be circulated 
by myriads of copies, and find respectful hearers, not among 
the masses only, but among the ostensible leaders of the 
coming Democracy. Possibly, the grotesque illustrations of 
his doctrines to which Mr. George has lately committed him- 
self, and the character of the patronage under which he has 
been introduced to English audiences, may supply a whole- 
some corrective to his influence, but the previous spread of 
that influence is in itself an ominous sign of the times. 

For what is the fundamental assumption on which all 
this fabric of speculative plunder reposes ? It is the assump- 
tion that wealth is itself the cause of poverty ; that, as the 
rich become richer, the poor become poorer. But this as- 
sumption is in flagrant opposition to facts, as was recently 
shown by Mr. Robert Giffen in his Address on the progress 
of the working classes in the last half-century. Mr. Giffen 
finds, as the result of an exhaustive inquiry, that, one with 
another, ' the workman of to-day receives from 50 to 100 
per cent, more money for 20 per cent, less work ; in round 
figures, he has gained from 70 to 100 per cent, in fifty years 
in money return.' Meanwhile, the price of nearly all articles 
consumed by working men has diminished, especially that of 
bread, the most important of all. The price of meat, it is 
true, has risen, chiefly because working-class families con- 
sume far more of it now than fifty years ago; and though 
house-rent is much higher, partly because such famihes are 
better lodged than in former days, the heavier charge 
under this head is altogether outweighed by the saving 
under others. A far larger proportion of the national in- 
come is now expended on education and otherwise for the 
benefit of the working classes. The death-rate has been 
greatly reduced ; pauperism and crime have declined still 
more remarkably ; savings-bank deposits and the capital of 
provident societies have enormously increased ; the impor- 
tation of tea, sugar, and other simple luxuries, mainly 


consumed by the working classes, has trebled or quadrupled 
itself in half a century. An analysis of the income-tax and 
probate-duty returns shows that, while the growth of capital 
has been very large, the whole income derived from it has not 
by any means grown at the same rate as the whole income 
derived from wages, and moreover that, instead of becom- 
ing more and more concentrated, the income of capitalists 
has become more and more diffused, so that each capitalist is, 
on the average, only 15 per cent, richer than was the case 
forty years ago, when the income tax was first instituted. In 
conclusion, Mr. Giffen points out what Mr. J. S. Mill had 
pointed out long before, that it is the grossest of Socialistic 
delusions to regard the income of capitalists as so much spoil 
which might be divided among the masses without any cor- 
responding loss. So reasoned the simple folk who killed 
the hen that laid the golden eggs. A very large part of the 
profits on capital is now saved and re-invested in business. 
Hence the constant rise of wages concurrently with a constant 
advance of population. Let these profits be scattered abroad, 
and spent instead of saved, and a constant advance of popu- 
lation will mean a constant fall of wages. 

It may be objected to Mr. Giffen's statistics that he dates 
his inquiry from a period when the labouring classes of this 
country were in a' state of abnormal depression. Such an 
objection would be material if these statistics were used to 
justify a self-complacent optimism. But it does not affect 
their value as showing that, instead of being intensified, 
poverty is reduced by progress, even with an ever-growing 
population, and the refutation of that monstrous paradox 
would have been still more striking had the population been 

Happily, in this country there is a wide interval between 
the sentimental acceptance of mischievous paradoxes and 
their practical adoption. As soon as any Socialistic plan for 
providing State lodging-houses comes to be embodied in a 
Bill, and tested by debate, the crushing arguments against 
it will be recognised by the common sense of the nation. It 


will then be remembered that a more hopeful and plausible 
experiment in Socialism — that of outdoor relief with a view 
to preserve the integrity and self-respect of family Ufe — ended 
in disastrous failure, a chronic depression of wages, and wide- 
spread degradation of the very class which it was designed 
to benefit. Still more decisive will be the national verdict 
against the Nationalisation of Land on Mr. George's prin- 
ciple when the scheme has once taken a tangible shape and 
emerges from the hands of a draughtsman. It will then 
appear that, apart from its revolting injustice, it runs counter 
to a far stronger and sounder Democratic tendency of the 
age, which aims at largely increasing the number of landed 
proprietors, and converting occupiers into owners. Other 
Socialistic projects which depend for their achievement on 
centralisation will inevitably conflict with anti-centralising 
influences already existing in English society, and likely to 
be developed by the onward progress of Democracy. One of 
these influences is the growing strength of what is called 
' Voluntaryism ' in relation to Church affairs and education ; 
another is the spirit which, operating in the political sphere, 
has animated the various movements in favour of 'Home 
Eule ' and ' Local Oi^tion.' Both of these principles represent 
the assertion of communal or congregational liberty against 
' CoUectivist ' dictation. Of course, the Socialism of Owen, 
Fourier, and others, who regard communes, great or small, 
as the constituent and self-governing units of the new social 
fabric, would be more or less in harmony with either of 
them. But State Socialism of the CoUectivist type, in order 
to be efficacious, would imperatively require an uniformity 
of administration equally at variance with individual liberty 
and with communal independence. A centralised Socialistic 
government would never tolerate competition in the use of 
ecclesiastical or educational endowments ; still less would 
it permit one municipality to shut up all the public-houses, 
and another, perhaps adjoining it, to establish free trade 
in drink. The individualism of communities or voluntary 
associations is as directly antagonistic to Socialism, in this 


paternally despotic form, as the individualism of separate 
human beings. 

Here, then, let us pause and consider what should be the 
attitude of a far-sighted Liberal statesman towards Democratic 
Socialism. He will assuredly not seek to combat Socialism 
by vain efforts to arrest the march of Democracy, thus for- 
feiting both the right and the power to guide that march in a 
salutary direction. He will not shut his eyes to the por- 
tentous evils caused by the present unequal distribution of 
wealth, nor will he- lightly conclude that such a distribution 
is dictated by immutable decrees of Nature or of Providence. 
He will not forget that slavery appeared to our forefathers as 
natural and as necessary as the abject poverty of millions of 
our fellow-citizens now appears to a certain school of econo- 
mists. He will not imagine that the so-called laws of Pohtical 
Economy have any cogency in themselves, or can be more 
than careful generalisations from human experience, by which 
they must be frequently corrected, and to which they must 
be constantly re-adapted. He will not be deterred by the 
stigma attaching to SociaUsm from weighing impartially 
• serious proposals for equalising more nearly the respective 
lots of the rich and of the poor, even if they appear to imperil 
the sacred institution of private property. He will, however, 
bear in mind and duly estimate the fact that communal pro- 
perty — at least in the shape of tribal ownership — is not an 
untried experiment, but an experiment condemned by the 
judgment of past generations, having been deliberately aban- 
doned for the system of enclosure, in most parts of Europe, 
with the advance of civilisation. He will equally lay to heart 
the lessons of history respecting the abuses of State inter- 
vention, and the origin of the laissez-faire system, while he 
will not decline to revise these lessons by the light of new 
social conditions. He will repudiate the notion that every 
child born into the world has rights against society, as distinct 
from its parents, but he wDl admit that, if the State cannot 
stop the increase of population, it cannot allow the Darwinian 
struggle for existence to operate unchecked. Starting from 


this point of view, he will probably be led to reject most of 
the drastic remedies offered by Socialism, but to believe that 
by less direct and violent methods the most legitimate object 
of Socialism — the diminution of social inequality — may gra- 
dually be attained. 

1. The first of these methods is so obvious that it is diffi- 
cult to understand how it can occupy so little space in the 
minds of Socialistic writers. It consists in a stricter regula- 
tion of successions to property, both real and personal. If 
there be such a thing as a natural right of man, it is the 
right of each to enjoy during life the entire fruits of his own 
labour and skill, instead of being mulcted for the benefit of 
his less skilful and industrious fellows. On the other hand, 
if there be a right which is a pure creation of law, founded 
on no instinctive sense of justice, and hardly recognised by 
primitive societies, it is the right of bequeathing his acquisi- 
tions to others at his own discretion. Yet, strange to say, 
it is the first of these rights which is rudely assailed by 
modern Socialists, while the second is little challenged, except 
as a corollary of the first. It is Capital as such, and not 
inherited capital, which is treated as the mortal foe of Labour, 
alike by the bloodthirsty pioneers of Nihilism and Anarchy, 
by the respectable followers of Karl Marx or Henry George, 
and even by the more extreme leaders of English Trades- 
Unionism. Whereas at the Bale Congress of the famous 
International Society, in 1869, a resolution in favour of 
abolishing hereditary succession was negatived, after a lively 
discussion, by a majority of more than two to one. 

This is not the place to examine minutely the relation of 
Capital to Labour ; it is enough to realise that no civilised 
labour can possibly be carried on without it, and that no 
motive except the expectation of personal gain has ever proved 
strong enough to encourage the saving which can alone pro- 
duce capital. This is the all-sufficient defence of individual 
property, but it is a defence which applies only to wealth 
earned by a man's own exertions, and not to wealth inherited 
from others. There is no reason whatever to suppose that 


accumulation would cease, even if there were no right of 
bequest, while there is the clearest evidence that the passion 
for accumulation is pecuUarly strong where, as in France and 
"other countries under the Code Napoleon, the right of bequest 
is narrowly limited by law, for the express purpose of pro- 
moting equality in the succession of children. The law of 
England, on the contrary, is eminently calculated, and indeed 
designed, to promote inequality. The right of Primogeniture, 
opetating on landed estates in all cases of intestacy, and the 
power of settling both land and personalty on an unborn 
grandchild of unknown character, have produced in territorial 
families an inveterate custom of beggaring younger children 
for the aggrandisement of the eldest son, without regard to 
personal merit, which has consecrated an unequal rule of 
distribution throughout all the upper classes of English 
society, and penetrated far below them. To revise the law 
and curtail the custom of Primogeniture will be among the 
first tasks of Democratic statesmanship, and by so doing it 
will erect a breakwater athwart the tide of Socialism. 

Perhaps it may even go further, and restrict the liberty 
of bequest within a testator's family, as it has already been 
restricted over most of the Continent, though not in the 
United States of America. If so, whatever other consequences 
may ensue. Socialism will not be the gainer, for a larger 
number of property-holders will be enlisted against Socialistic 
encroachments on property. A milder, but less practicable, 
alternative would be the adoption of Mill's suggestion, that 
no one should be allowed to inherit more than ' a comfortable 
independence.' The difficulty of carrying out this suggestion 
literally is self-evident, but a Liberal statesman, in a Demo- 
cratic age, will not shruak from the idea of progressive suc- 
cession and legacy duties, which may have much the same 
effect. The distinction between a progressive succession duty 
and a progressive income tax is very material. The latter, 
though worthy of far more consideration than it has received, 
strikes directly at acquisition, and might very seriously check 
the accumulation of capital. The former would leave the 


capitalist full control of his own savings during life, and, if 
it weakened his incentives to accumulation, so far as these 
depend on his desire to enrich his children, it would sensibly 
increase the incentives to accumulation on the part of these 
very children, who might otherwise lapse into drones. The 
funds thus obtained by the State might be utilised in relief 
of other taxes, without robbing any one — either the deceased 
capitalist who, having brought nothing into the world, is 
entitled to carry nothing out, or his children who, knowing 
the law beforehand, would have governed their expectations 
and laid their plans accordingly. The whole amount of 
capital applicable to reproductive uses would not be dimin- 
ished, but only redistributed, for whatever the estate of the 
deceased might lose would go to increase the capital of the 
general taxpayer. 

2. But a far safer mode of satisfying the reasonable de- 
mands of modern Socialism consists in the bold and vigorous 
development of local self-government. Communism and Com- 
munalism, though often confounded, are naturally opposed 
to each other, as we may learn from the example of Saxon 
times, where the communal rights of each township or hun- 
dred were stoutly maintained by the same local assemblies 
which jealously guarded individual rights of property. So 
far as State Socialism has for its end the subordination of 
private to public interests, an extension of local self-govern- 
ment will often prove a more potent means of attaining that 
end than an extension of Imperial control. All departments 
of State must needs be guided by general rules, and no officers 
acting under instructions from Downing Street can bring 
' the master's eye ' to bear on local affairs with the same 
vigilance or success as officers employed by a local authority. 
Had the old County Courts been maintained, they would 
assuredly have prevented numberless encroachments of 
modern landowners on common rights by piecemeal enclosure, 
obstruction or diversion of footpaths, the creation of nuisances 
injurious to the public health or convenience, and the like. 
The way to put down such grievances is not to call in State 


aid, but to popularise and invigorate local tribunals, so that 
each invasion of public franchises may be promptly denounced 
and checked under the pressure of public opinion. This is 
the spirit of American Democracy, and the strength which it 
has infused into the local institutions of the United States is 
probably the main reason why Socialism has there made so 
little progress. Even a half- Socialistic measure, like the con- 
cession of free education to all citizens, will produce a very 
different effect accorduig as it is carried out by an Imperial 
or a local authority. If the whole cost of maintaining ele- 
mentary schools were thrown on the Consolidated Fund, no 
matter how lavishly inspectors might be multiplied, school- 
management would at once flag, healthy rivalry would cease, 
and the average standard of attainments among the scholars 
would almost certainly be lowered. It would be far otherwise 
if, as in America, the same principle were applied by each 
municipality or parish. It may, perhaps, be doubted whether 
rural labourers, however eager to obtain improved cottages 
at the public expense, would not use their votes to abolish 
compulsory attendance if they could, even though education 
were free ; but a few years hence Democracy will heartily 
adopt universal education, at all events if it be free. Those 
who paid school-rates would then take care to get their 
money's worth, and a large part of the population might be 
expected to feel an honourable pride in their school- buildings 
and staff. In a word, there would be less of Socialism, but 
more of true Democracy, in the system of popular education. 

3. If we now look at Socialism from its purely industrial 
side, we may well ask what it has to offer which is not to be 
obtained with far less disturbance of society under a system 
of industrial partnership. Let us take an extreme case, and 
suppose national workshops, such as proved a disastrous 
failure in Paris, to be established in London for the benefit 
of distressed operatives. Capital would be required to work 
them ; let us further suppose this capital to be raised by con- 
fiscating the property of the rich, or some other Sociahstic 
device. But this capital, however it might be raised, would 


mainly be withdrawn from some other business, that is, from 
the employment of labour elsewhere, so that, as a whole, the 
labouring class might gain little or nothing. But let this 
pass ; the question remains whether either capital or labour 
is likely to be so beneficially invested in national workshops 
as in workshops belonging to industrial partnerships. The 
marvellous success of two such enterprises in France goes far 
to justify Mill's belief in their value as an agency for recon- 
ciling the claims of labour and capital. There are, of course, 
difficulties in managing them, because workmen are less 
trustful and amenable to discipline as partners than as factory 
hands ; and these difficulties have marred the success of 
similar experiments in England. But the difficulties incident 
to managing an industrial or co-operative partnership are as 
nothing compared with those to be surmounted if the State 
were really to undertake the impossible task of organising 
labour and apportioning wages on Socialistic principles. ' Can 
we suppose,' Mr. Mill asks, ' that, with men as they now are, 
duty and honour are more powerful principles of action than 
personal interest ? ' Can we doubt that under a Socialistic 
system of State management the spirit of improvement would 
be crushed out by the spirit of routine, that discord would 
take the place of harmonious discipline, and that, however 
equably the products of labour might be distributed, the 
quantity, if not the quality, of them would be vastly dimin- 
ished ? These risks would be avoided, or at least greatly 
mitigated, under a system of industrial partnership, and the 
fact of such a system having made so little way in England 
is a strong proof that industrial Socialism is out of harmony 
with the national character. At all events, so far as co- 
operation is a remedy for the evils of competition, it is a 
remedy which the working classes have in their own hands, 
and which they are fast learning to apply. 

4. Another tendency which a wise statesman would en- 
courage as a prophylactic against Socialism is the revival of 
some intermediate links, now missing, between capitalists or 
employers and workpeople. In the olden times every country- 


gentleman farmed, every farmer worked, and most labourers 
owned or rented plots of land. All these classes were thus 
brought into closer intercourse with each other, and besides 
these a true peasantry still existed, combining the attributes 
of all. Almost the same might be said of manufacture, when 
the mechanic was an apprentice, destined in due course to be 
a master, and vast numbers of mechanics were at once their 
own masters and then- own workmen. It would be too much to 
expect that modern trade and rural economy should flow back 
into the ancient channels of mediseval guilds and feudal land- 
tenure. But it is not too much to expect that, under the 
joint impulse of Democracy and education, the excessive sub- 
division of labour may be checked ; that petites industries may 
again spring up and flourish, not only in the country, but in 
the heart of cities ; that clever artificers may once more 
aspire to be masters of their whole craft, instead of mere 
cog-wheels in a complex machinery of production ; that a con- 
stant ascending movement, such as exists in America, may 
cause the ranks of capital to be steadily recruited from the 
ranks of labour ; that, in short, the natural inequalities of 
physical strength, mental ability, and moral character, may 
be left to operate freely in each generation with as little dis- 
turbance as possible from artificial obstacle^ created, but not 
justified, by the operation of similar inequalities in bygone 

The secret, then, whereby Socialism may be disarmed 
consists in satisfying its legitimate demands and nobler aspi- 
rations by measures founded on a juster and sounder prin- 
ciple. But, after all, the Socialistic leaven will continue to 
work in a Democratic community so long as the full virtues 
of individualism are not called into action. Socialism pre- 
supposes a far greater equality and uniformity of capacity 
and merit than actually exists among human beings. Until 
the laws of Nature can be reversed, and the prodigious differ- 
ences between man and man can be effaced, it is doomed to 
inevitable defeat ; but if it should ever triumph, it would 
triumph over the ruins of that individual energy to which 


civilisation owes its vitality. It was the boast of the Athenian 
Democracy — the political marvel of the ancient world — that 
it gave unbounded play to individual character, and the 
American Democracy, however it may have since degenerated, 
originally drew its strength from the same fountain of indi- 
vidual liberty and independence. The suppression of this 
spirit, the absence of competition, and the prevalence of an 
ignorant State Socialism, as it may well be called, are the 
distinctive features of those Oriental Governments whose 
dreary and monotonous rule, prolonged over century after 
century, excluded the very idea of progress, and left no fruits 
to be reaped by posterity. The advice addressed by M. 
Edmond Scherer to French Democrats may well be laid to 
heart by English Democrats allured by the phantom of State 
Socialism : — 

' Do not imagine that one class is to be enriched by im- 
poverishing others. Instead of opposing the formation of 
private fortunes, strive to increase the number of capitalists 
and proprietors ; in like manner, instead of lowering public 
functions to bring them within the reach of incapacity, aim 
at drawing from the bosom of society all its inherent capaci- 
ties, and at pressing them into the service of the State : in a 
word, let your establishment of social equality consist, not in 
forbidding natural superiorities to assert themselves or in 
forcing them down to the level of the general mediocrity, but, 
on the contrary, in favouring the manifestation and develop- 
ment of everything in the masses which is strong enough to 
rise above this level.' ' 

But then, as M. Scherer truly observes, this is not the 
Socialistic, but the Liberal, and, he might add, the Christian, 
solution of the social problem. 

Much, indeed, remains for us to learn and to do before 
tliis solution can be fully verified and practically worked out. 
The state of the poor in most European countries is still, 
perhaps, as great a reproach to Christian philanthropy as the 
constant recurrence of war between Christian nations, but it 
' La Democratie et la France, Edmond Scherer, 188.3. 


is assuredly not a greater reproach. In both cases the selfish- 
ness of human nature has as yet proved too strong for 
Christian principles ; but have we the very smallest reason 
to believe that, where Christianity has failed, Socialism would 
succeed ? Can we imagine any ideal of human brotherhood 
nobler than is set before us by the Gospel, or stronger motives 
for embracing it than are there impressed upon mankind, or 
more earnest attempts to realise it than have been actually 
made, both in Europe and America, in commonwealths organ- 
ised on a Christian model ? The discouraging issue of 
such experiments sliould go far to convince reasonable men 
that what is wanted to hasten the good time coming is not 
so much organisation as moral and religious influences, 
operating more widely than heretofore on individual hearts 
and minds. Doubtless the new Democracy will strive hard 
to bridge over by legislation the gulf which now yawns between 
the rich and the poor, nor is there any cause to despair of its 
accomplishing much by the steady light of past experience. 
But there is little hope of its accomplishing anything by the 
false lights of Socialistic theories, which, so far as they do not 
elude practical tests, are found to be radically false. If its 
leaders be wise, they will direct their efforts, not so much to 
reconstructing ' Society,' which is an abstract conception, as 
to raising the characters and capacities of men, women and 
children, who are concrete realities. They will indulge in no 
querulous invectives against ' capitalism,' which is but a cant 
word for the power acquired by saving, but rather will exhort 
the working classes to win a share of this power by the same 
honourable process. They will see that abuse of competition 
is hardly more reasonable than abuse of gravitation, and that 
if capital now wrings an exorbitant return from the produce 
of labour, the labourer may obtain a like return for himself 
by means of co-operation. They will beware of ignoring or 
reviling the inexorable law by virtue of which the 'refuse 
of human life ' — the victims of disease, vice, and crushing 
misfortune — sink downwards and settle at the bottom of every 
society, except in Utopia, but will rather consider how to 


minimise and elevate even this residuum, without sowing the 
seeds of a fresh crop of misery for the next generation. In- 
stead of worshiijping, and teaching others to worship, a past 
that was never present, they will study the methods whereby 
the most provident and self-restrained of the working classes 
are already enabled to effect their own emancipation, with a 
view to adopting the same methods for the emancipation of 
a much larger number, if not of the whole body. Those who 
believe in Democracy will not regard this as too ambitious 
an aim for Democratic statesmanship ; but, if this be too 
ambitious an aim, then how utterly vain is the vision of a 
Sociahstic millennium ! For the Socialistic transformation 
of a free people, like the English, into a vast Trades-Union 
composed of a single class, would demand for its achievement 
a degi-ee of intelligence little short of omniscience, and a 
revolutionary force little short of omnipotence ; while the 
maintenance of such a system would require an infinitely 
higher order of public virtues in the whole community than 
would suffice, under the present system, to secure the greatest 
happiness of the greatest number in a sense far beyond the 
shallow counsels of Socialistic perfection. 

V 2 



N.B. — Some arguments and expressions in this Address are 
borrowed from the two foregoing Articles. 

I HAVE undertaken to address you to-night on one of the 
gravest and most practical questions that can engage the 
attention of such an audience on the opening of a new Par- 
liament, elected, for the first time, by universal household 
suffrage. It is the question whether the Socialistic tendencies 
which all must recognise in modern Democracy are to be 
accepted as irresistible, or treated as capable of being checked 
and guided ; how far they are favourable, and how far ad- 
verse, to social progress, in its highest sense ; and what 
attitude towards them should be adopted by one who is 
neither a theorist nor an agitator, but simply desires to 
promote the happiness of men, women and children — the 
supreme object of true statesmanship. In approaching this 
question, I do not propose to occupy your time by labouring 
to show that we are actually face to face with the perils and 
the responsibilities, the privileges and the aspirations, of 
Democratic government. I regard the Eeform Act of last 
year as having crowned and consummated the effect of causes 
long in operation, and as having converted the British Con- 
stitution into a Democracy, conducted under monarchical 
forms and not without aristocratic safeguards, but still a 
genuine and typical Democracy. Henceforth, the ultimate 
control of national policy is lodged, if not in the whole people, 
yet in the heads of households and a very large body of non- 

' An Address delivered at the Birmingham and Midland Institute on Feb- 
ruary 8, 1886, and reprinted from Macmillan's Magazine. 


householders in town and country; while electoral power is 
80 distributed as to leave few, if any, breakwaters of personal 
influence to stand out athwart the current of the popular 
will. This is Democracy — the government of the people by 
the people ; and as modern Democracy visibly moves in a 
Socialistic direction, it is well that we should clearly realise 
the nature and probable results of that movement — at least, 
so far as concerns this country. 

When I attribute Socialistic tendencies to Democracy, as 
it is now established in England, I desire to limit the meaning 
of the word ' Socialism ' for the purpose of our present in- 
quiry. Let us at once dismiss from consideration the wild 
and criminal schemes of foreign Nihilists and Anarchists, 
which are incompatible with the existence of organised society, 
whether on the basis of Socialism or on that of individual 
liberty. Such projects have found little acceptance in Eng- 
land, and are not even countenanced by the Socialistic pro- 
gramme of the Democratic Federation.' The grand object 
of that programme was described by Mr. Hyndman, in his 
discussion with Mr. Bradlaugh, as ' an endeavour to substitute 
for the anarchical struggle or fight for existence an organised 
Co-operation for existence.' This is as plausible as it is vague ; 
but, as Mr. Bradlaugh pointed out, the means proposed for 
the achievement of this object are the abohtion and destruc- 
tion of individual property ; if possible, by argument ; if not, 
by force. Not only does the Democratic Federation distinctly 
advocate the so-called ' nationalisation ' of railways and ship- 
ping, but it adopts the plan shamelessly expounded in the 
well-known treatise of Mr. Henry George on ' Progress and 
Poverty ' for the nationalisation of land tvithout respect for 
vested interests. ' By the apostles of agrarian plunder,' says 
Mr. Goldwin Smith, ' it is proposed to confiscate, either 
openly, or under the thin disguise of the taxing power, every 
man's freehold — even the farm which the settler has just 

' A few hours before this Address was delivered the West End of London 
was the scene of a disgraceful riot, attended by pillage, consequent on a meeting 
of Social Democrats held in Trafalgar Square. 


reclaimed by the sweat of his own brow from the wilderness. 
And it is emphatically added, with all the exultation of in- 
solent injustice, that no compensation is to be allowed. That 
the State has, by the most solemn and repeated guarantees, 
ratified private proprietorship and undertaken to protect it, 
matters nothing ; nor even that it has itself recently sold the 
land to the proprietor, signed the deed of sale, and received 
the payment. That such views can be propounded anywhere 
but in a robber's den or a lunatic asylum, still more, that 
they can find respectful hearers, is a proof that the econo- 
mical world is in a state of curious perturbation.' 

Happily, the Socialistic tendencies of English Democracy 
have not yet been forced into the grooves carved out by 
Mr. Henry George or the Democratic Federation. Widespread 
as they are, they have never shaped themselves into a creed, 
nor is it by any means easy to bring within the compass of 
any one definite conception the various Socialistic ideas now 
floating in the Democratic atmosphere. We are bound, how- 
ever, to make the effort, and perhaps we may best realise the 
nature of the Socialism which now claims our allegiance in 
this country by clearly identifying the ideas against which it 
is a protest. One of these ideas is the so-called laissez-faire 
principle ; that is, the principle which regards the free play 
of individual liberty as the best security for the good of 
society, and State intervention as an evil only to be justified 
by extreme necessity. Another is the principle of proprietary 
right, which, in its extreme form, treats property as a creature 
of Nature or of Providence rather than of human law, and_ 
condemns legislative restrictions of it, for the supposed inte- 
rest of the community, not only as inexpedient, but as unjust. 
A third is the principle according to which competition, and 
not co-operation, is the soundest mainspring of human pro- 
gress, and the best regulator of social life. The popular 
Socialism of the present day is the negation and antithesis 
of these ideas. It embraces a great variety of theories, but 
its aspirations are specially directed towards equalising the 
distribution of wealth in the community, by means of direct 


State interference with freedom of contract and individual 
proprietorship. This is the form of SociaHsm which I have in 
view to-night when I proceed to examine the ' SociaUstic Ten- 
dencies of Democracy.' No doubt the phrase has been loosely 
applied, by friends as well as by foes, to many other Demo- 
cratic measures, some of which have already been adopted by 
Parhament. But a little consideration will show that most of 
these are derived from entirely distinct principles, and that 
our proposed definition embraces nearly all the claims of 
legislative reform now current, which directly conflict with 
the rights of liberty and property, as hitherto understood. 

1. For instance, a whole series of Acts in our Statute- 
book is directed to check monopolies and privileges of various 
kinds, commercial and otherwise. Such monopolies and 
privileges are inconsistent with the industrial equality dear 
to Socialists, but they are equally inconsistent with the in- 
dustrial liberty dear to an ti- Socialists; and the policy which 
prohibits them is dictated, not by a desire to increase the 
protective sphere of State interference, but, on the contrary^ 
by a desire to set free individual competition. These Acts, 
therefore, are the reverse of Socialistic. Again, the substitu- 
tion of equal division for the law of Primogeniture, as the 
rule of descent for landed property on intestacy, would be 
in no respect a Socialistic reform. It would tend, indeed, so 
far as it operated, to equalise the possession of landed property 
in the community — which is a quasi- Socialistic object; but it 
would involve no interference, direct or even indirect, on the 
part of the State, with freedom of disposition. 

2. These are instances in which the distribution of wealth 
is more or less affected by legislation, which, however, cannot 
be truly described as Socialistic, because it does not restrict 
individual liberty. But there are other instances in which 
the word ' Socialistic ' is erroneously applied to measures 
which do, indeed, more or less, restrict individual liberty, but 
do not affect either the action of competition or the dis- 
tribution of wealth. Such are the Sanitary Acts and the 
Education Acts. The principle of these Acts is no more 


Socialistic than the principle of the old Common Law, which 
is, in fact, the principle of all law. The old Common Law 
prohibited nuisances, and gave every man a right to prosecute 
a neighbour who should pollute his well or injure the health 
of his family by neglect of drainage, though it did not actually 
legalise drainage-rates and water-rates. On the other hand, 
at Common Law every able-bodied man was liable to be 
called out for compulsory military service. In these days 
military service is voluntary, while taxation for drainage and 
water-supply is compulsory : but the principle is exactly the 
same, and the object in both cases is not the equalisation of 
fortunes, but the good of the community. Still more emphati- 
cally may this be said of the Education Acts. Assuredly it 
was not the poorer classes who clamoured for education to 
be given to them at the expense of the rich. On the con- 
trary, the movement came from above. It was the State 
that, for its own purposes, compelled the poorer classes to 
have their children educated, and to forego their earnings, 
however unwilling they might be to do so ; and even to pay 
school-fees, except where extreme destitution could be pleaded. 
It is a very serious question whether, in enforcing this obliga- 
tion, the State was not bound to go a step further and to 
establish free schools ; but, at all events, a system which lays 
a heavy burden on the poor for a public object which few of 
them appreciate cannot justly be called Socialistic. No doubt, 
the larger proportion of sanitary and education rates is paid 
by those who derive less direct benefit from them ; but this 
result is accidental ; and, if this be Socialism, it must be 
Socialism to levy taxes for keeping up prisons from honest 
men who are never likely to be lodged in gaol. 

3. For like reasons, we cannot regard as Socialistic the 
numerous measures which have been passed of late years for 
the protection of various classes, whether or not they encroach 
on freedom of contract, if they do not attempt to enrich one 
man at the expense of another. If the Factory Laws enacted 
that women and children should only work half-time, but 
should be paid for full-time, such an enactment, futile as it 


might be, would be clearly Socialistic. So, too, would be an 
Emi^loyers' Liability Act declaring that no deduction should 
be made from the wages of any workman by reason of the 
new. Uability thereby imposed upon the employer ; or an 
Artisans' Dwelling Act forbidding more than a certain low rent 
to be demanded from each family occupying a tenement. But 
there are no such provisions in the actual Factory Acts, or 
the Employers' Liability Act, or the Artisans' Dwelling Act ; 
and they do not become Socialistic merely because their aim 
is protective, or their effect levelling. All remedial Acts must 
needs benefit most those weak and struggling classes for 
whose relief they are designed ; and all impartial taxation 
must needs extract a larger contribution per head from the 
rich than from the poor. But this is not Socialism ; and, if 
it were, no Christian government would be possible except 
on a Socialistic basis. It is a fallacy, countenanced alike by 
cunning advocates of Socialism and by partisans of the 
Liberty and Property Defence League, that every legislative 
restraint of individual liberty is, in its essence. Socialistic. 
From this point of view, we can only escape from Socialism 
by letting every man do that which is right in his own eyes, 
regardless of his neighbour ; and not only commercial pro- 
tection, but all protection, is but a practical application of the 
Socialistic gospel. No wonder that Socialism, obscured by 
such a confusion of thought, should appear as the inseparable 
companion of modern Democracy. For it is now self-evident 
that, however sound within the sphere of exchange, the free 
play of individual liberty and interest cannot satisfy all the 
requirements of humanity and justice recognised by Demo- 
cracy. We must get beyond it, in various directions, and if 
getting beyond it in any direction amounts to Socialism, then 
we must all be Socialists. 

Having thus glanced at some examples of remedial legis- 
lation miscalled Socialistic, let us consider a single typical 
example of truly Socialistic legislation, the nature of which 
is seldom realised — I mean the English Poor Law. If society, 
and not individuals, were responsible for bringing children 


into the world — if the State could rigorously limit the number 
of its citizens and regulate their industry — it would naturally 
undertake the burden of maintaining the sick and decrepit, 
unless, indeed, it should enforce thrift by a system of com- 
pulsory national insurance. Inasmuch, however, as marriage 
is free to all, and no check is or can be placed on the increase 
of population, a law which guarantees to every newcomer, 
however unwelcome, a bare subsistence at least, and protects 
him, at the expense of others, against the proper consequences 
of his own improvidence, vice, or crime, is pure Socialism and 
nothing else. To levy rates upon struggling workpeople for 
the support of worthless idlers and their children, legitimate 
or illegitimate, is a deliberate interference of the State with 
the action of natural laws in the lowest stratum of the com- 
munity, and results in impoverishing the worthier to save 
from starvation, if not to enrich, the less worthy. Yet this 
law, dating from an age in which the name of SociaHsm was 
unknown, is consecrated by public opinion and the usage of 
three centuries, nor could it be repealed without shocking our 
sense of humanity. But if the Poor Law itself be Socialistic 
in principle, what are we to say of the claims sometimes 
preferred on behalf of those who happen to inhabit certain 
overcrowded quarters of London ? It may be well to state 
these claims nakedly and without disguise. ' Here,' it is 
urged, ' are so many thousands of us living upon a certain 
area ; we claim the right to remain there, for we do not 
mean to migrate, nor yet to emigrate, still less to go into the 
workhouse. We further claim the right to multiply at our 
own discretion, and it is possible that we may be reinforced 
by new settlers pressing in from the country, especially if 
Government should comply with our demand. That demand 
is that, however numerous we may become, jostling each 
other like rabbits in a warren, and however little our labour 
may be required, a sufficient maintenance and decent homes 
shall be provided for all of us, at the cost of the community, 
not elsewhere, but on this very spot, to which by our own 
free-will we are rooted.' Of course, the bare statement of 


such a claim is its best refutation, but the fact that some- 
thing very hke this has been seriously advanced is a fact that 
cannot be ignored in discussing the ' Socialistic Tendencies of 
Democracy.' It remains to determine the sources of these 
tendencies as we now see them in operation, to examine 
some of the legislative proposals to which they have given 
birth, and to consider how far they ought to be encouraged 
or resisted by a wise statesman. 

One thing is certain. The Socialism now imported into 
English politics is essentially English, and of essentially 
modern origin. It has little in common with the paternal 
despotism of the State under the ancient republics or feudal 
monarchies — a despotism of which some traditions survive 
in the combination of Democracy with State-control on the 
continent of Europe. Though Enghsh Democracy is much 
less Socialistic than French or German Democracy, it must 
be confessed that most of the external causes which favour 
the spread of modern Socialism have operated with peculiar 
intensity in England.' . . . But the Socialistic tendencies of 
our new Democracy are not merely the product of such external 
causes as these. They also represent a profound reaction 
against that faith in individual rights and individual freedom 
which has governed the ideas of most political reformers in 
England since the days of Adam Smith, and has been re- 
asserted, in an extreme form, by the Liberty and Property 
Defence League. It is not so much that men have again 
begun to idolise, as they once did, the collective wisdom of 
the State, as such, or to maintain its capacity to preside, like 
an earthly Providence, over the social life of its citizens. It 
is, rather, that large classes of individual citizens, and espe- 
cially those who have most to gain by change, are eager to 
employ the powerful machinery of Government now placed 
within their grasp for the redress of their supposed grievances 
and the attainment of their favourite objects. It is felt, and 
not without reason, that individuality and free competition, 
the struggle for existence and the law of supply and demand, 

' See the last Article, on ' Democracy and Socialism,' p. 190. 


have now had a full trial, and have failed to produce the 
happiness or contentment which their earlier advocates ex- 
pected of them. It is believed that all which could be gained, 
in the long run, by the action of these principles, at the cost 
of infinite waste and suffering, may be gained far more 
speedily and surely by co-operation and organisation, and 
that without any countervailing loss. It is hoped that, by 
some fortunate adjustment of providential laws, the harvest 
of liberty may be reaped without sowing, and the benefits 
of State protection secured without the sacrifice of personal 
energy and independence. 

I have endeavoured to show elsewhere how these Sociahstic 
forces, material and moral, have been happily tempered in 
England by a multitude of modifying influences — such as the 
national sense of humanity and justice, the wide diffusion 
of charity, both private and public, the right of pubUe meet- 
ing, the freedom of the Press, the general recognition of pro- 
motion by merit, the absence of conscription, the infinite 
development of association on lines ever crossing and inter- 
secting class-divisions, the kindly intercourse between gentle 
and simple in country districts, and the sacred traditions of 
family life in the English home. To these and other like 
characteristics of English society we probably owe our im- 
munity from those violent and Communistic forms of Socialism 
which have occasionally broken out into volcanic eruption on 
the Continent. For, let it be observed, once for all, that 
Communistic Socialism is one thing. Constitutional Socialism 
is another. Communistic Socialism aims at levelling down 
by confiscating all private fortunes, abolishing the institution 
of property, and destroying all motive for personal industry ; 
Constitutional Socialism aims at levelling up, and purports 
to conserve all the vigour of individual activity, and even to 
respect legitimate property, while it seeks to cripple the 
excessive power of wealth by subjecting it to a constant 
process of depletion. 

In order to estimate the lengths to which Socialistic ideas 
have been carried in practical schemes for Democratic legis- 


lation in England, we cannot do better than review briefly 
some leading articles of the so-called 'Radical Programme,' 
a volume which has been widely circulated of late ; not that 
it possesses the slightest authority, but that it contains a 
convenient repertory of the demands actually preferred, during 
the late election, on behalf of the new Democracy. 

We may at once put aside, as foreign to our subject, those 
demands which relate to the payment of members, the aboli- 
tion of the Upper House, the destruction of the Established 
Church, the Democratic reform of Local Government, and 
the creation of a National Council for Ireland. These de- 
mands may be reasonable and constitutional, or they may 
be revolutionary and mischievous ; but there is nothing 
Socialistic in their principle. Almost the same may be said 
of the demand for free education ; for though it may be advo- 
cated in a Socialistic tone, it is capable, as we have seen, of 
being supported by non- Socialistic arguments. But what are 
we to say of such proposals as those for confiscating and re- 
distributing the revenues of the Church ; for reforming the 
whole English system of land-tenure in the interest of tenants 
and labourers ; for unsettling the whole basis of taxation in 
the interest of the proletariat ; for delegating to public bodies 
with sweeping powers the duty of housing the poor comfort- 
ably, and providing them with allotments ; for the ' restitu- 
tion ' of land improperly inclosed, and for nationalising 
corporate property? Let us look at one or two of these pro- 
posals more closely, with a view to ascertain how far they are 
Socialistic in principle ; whether or not they be defensible on 
independent grounds. 

1. The proposed scheme for disendowing the Church rests 
on the assumption that Church property is State property, 
and may be re- appropriated by the State, from time to time, 
for the benefit of the whole nation. This assumption is not 
strictly accurate. True it is that the Church, as such, has 
no personality and no property of its own, though it consists 
of many thousand cofporations, each of which holds property. 
But the same rule appHes equally to endowed charities ; and 


it would be more correct to say that all corporate property, 
ecclesiastical or otherwise, is held, and always has been 
held, at the disposal of the State, with exceptions in favour 
of vested interests and modern endowments. The Church of 
Christ is a spiritual body, unknown to law ; but the Church 
of England is a creation of the law, and it is the law alone 
which secures parochial revenues to clergymen of the Anglican 
communion, excluding Eoman Catholic priests — whose tenets 
are more in harmony with those of the original donors — and 
Nonconformist ministers, who decline episcopal ordination. 
It would be a Socialistic measure to seize all these revenues, 
without compensation to living incumbents or patrons, and 
divide them among the ministers of all denominations, or 
among the ratepayers of England. It would be a scarcely 
less Socialistic measure to confiscate endowments bestowed 
on the National Church by private donors, without also con- 
fiscating those bestowed under like conditions, and within 
the same limits of time, on other religious communions. 
Subject, however, to such reservations, whatever may be said 
against disendowment on religious or political grounds, there 
would be no Socialism in applying pubhc Church property, 
inherited from bygone ages, with due regard for vested inte- 
rests, to any purpose of national utility. 

2. Several of the popular schemes of agrarian reform are 
far more distinctively Socialistic, and far less defensible on 
principles of justice. This Socialistic bias in dealing with 
questions relating to land is the more remarkable because an 
exactly opposite bias is characteristic of Continental Socialism. 
In France, for instance, it is capital invested in trade against 
which all the attacks of Socialism are directed. In the for- 
cible language of Mr. Goldwin Smith, ' Capital, spelt with a 
big initial letter, swells into a malignant giant — the personal 
enemy of Labour ; spelt in the natural way, it is simply that 
with which Labour starts on any enterprise, and without 
which no labour can exist at all, unless it be that of the 
savage grubbing roots with his nails.' On the other hand, 
among French Socialists, property in land is not only tole- 


rated, but respected. No one proposes to alter the articles 
in the Code Napoleon which regulate land-tenure ; and these 
articles, while they compel subdivision on death, are other- 
wise founded on the strictest principles of contract. This 
contrast between the views of French and English Radicals 
in regard to land is most significant, and admits of a very 
simple explanation. In France, the landowners are reckoned 
by millions, and no man dares to propose despoiling them ; 
in England, they are reckoned by thousands, and many of 
them are rich enough to offer a tempting bait for Socialistic 
cupidity. The authors of the ' Eadical Programme ' are 
shrewd enough to see through the enormous fallacies which 
underlie Mr. George's scheme for ' nationahsing ' land, and 
point out that it could only be worked by a long series of 
wholesale confiscations. But they do not see the equally 
palpable fallacies which underlie their own schemes of philan- 
thropic robbery, veiled under the specious name of ' restitu- 
tion.' They tacitly assume that every man has a right to 
marry when he pleases, whether or not he possesses the 
means to maintain children ; and that every child so born 
into the world has a right, not to maintenance and free edu- 
cation only, but to a slice of his native soil (perhaps ' three 
acres and a cow ') — not against his parents, who are respon- 
sible for his existence, but against society, which, if it could, 
would have prevented his coming into the world at all. They 
assume that the present generation of English labourers in- 
herits the rights and the wrongs of the old Enghsh peasantry, 
and can justly claim the restoration of lands from which their 
forefathers are supposed to have been ousted — as if many of 
them were not descended from landless serfs, others from 
town-artisans, others from the very landlords who are held 
up to obloquy as oppressors ; while, if their hereditary right 
were admitted, they "would have to share their patrimony 
with millions of cousins who are now peopling the continents 
of America and Australia. They assume, conversely, that 
nearly all landowners derive their title from a line of an- 
cestors, and are rolling in ill-gotten wealth ; whereas a very 


large proportion of them have purchased their estates out 
of trade earnings, or are the sons of those who so purchased 
them ; and many thousands of the rest would now be in rags 
if they were living on their rentals alone, and are actually 
subsidising their landed property out of other sources of 
income. They assume — as it was assumed by those simple 
people who killed the goose that laid the golden eggs — they 
assume that, after destroying the security of landed property 
and the mutual confidence between the classes engaged in 
agriculture, capital would flow into agriculture more freely 
than ever, and all the fruits which spring from security and 
confidence would be enjoyed in still greater abundance. 

To refute such assumptions as these would be to give 
elementary lessons in moral philosophy and political economy; 
yet upon them are based Socialistic doctrines which have 
iaeen widely accepted. For instance, when it is urged that 
house property in towns should be taken for purposes of 
improvement at less than its market value, it is seldom 
realised how much of this property belongs to struggling men 
who have invested their savings in it, and might be half 
ruined by its partial confiscation. When the demolition 
of illegal enclosures on common-land is loudly demanded, it 
is forgotten how many of such encroachments have been 
made by poor squatters, whose children or grandchildren are 
now living upon them in perfect innocence ; and it is also 
forgotten how many popular rights stand or fall with these 
very rules of prescription which are so lightly swept aside. 
When ' fair rents ' and ' free sale ' are advocated in the same 
breath as cardinal points of the new agricultural charter, it 
is not perceived that ' free sale ' must inevitably kill ' fair 
rent ' — that is, that on the next transfer of a tenancy under 
' free sale,' the price to be paid by the incoming tenant will 
be large in proportion as the rent is low, and the interest 
upon that sum, together with the ' fair rent,' must needs 
amount to a full rack-rent. When ' fixity of tenure ' is pro- 
pounded in another clause of the same charter, it is not only 
overlooked that one-sided fixity of tenure is unjust— that a 


tenant ought not to have a right of remaining on a farm, 
unless the landlord has a corresponding right of keeping him 
there; it is also overlooked that a landlord may happen to 
be poor, and a tenant may happen to be rich, in which case 
Dives would be quartered on the homestead of Lazarus, at a 
minimum rent, and without the possibility of being removed. 
These are but specimens of the unreasoning injustice into 
which men who desire to be reasonable and just are hurried 
by the shallow logic of Socialism, by which the ' Radical Pro- 
gramme ' is largely tainted. ' The problem,' we are told, ' is 
how to make life worth living for those to whom it is now a 
prolonged misery.' The one solution proposed, under various 
forms, is the impoverishment of those who have for the . 
benefit of those who have not ; and the authors appear blind 
to all but the momentary relief which might be thus obtained. 
Perhaps they never heard of Bastiat's famous discourse on 
' That which is Seen, and that which is not Seen.' They 
see, at least in imagination, free schools all over the country 
supported out of the revenues of a disendowed Church. What 
they do not see is the gradual extinction of numberless 
charitable agencies now centred in the parish clergyman and 
his family, or the diversion of numberless subscriptions from 
their present objects for the support of the minister deprived 
of his tithes. They see the immediate advantage to accrue 
from the expropriation of A. and the taxation of B. for the 
purpose of erecting C. into a peasant proprietor. What they 
do not see, is the difficulty of keeping C. a peasant proprietor, 
of saving him from the hands of the money-lender, and of 
preventing him from letting his land at an extortionate rent 
to some more enterprising or industrious neighbour. They 
see the arguments — and they are very strong — in favour of a 
graduated income tax, as encouraging a more equal dis- 
tribution of wealth in the country. What they do not see, 
is its tendency to check the accumulation of capital, the sole 
reservoir of wages, or the utter impossibility of limiting such 
a principle, if it were once introduced. They see the palpable 
blessings which might be realised by a liberal expenditure out 


of the rates for the benefit of the most destitute class. What 
they do not see, is the burden thereby imposed on the poorer 
ratepayers, themselves on the brink of pauperism, or the cer- 
tainty of improvidence and over-population being stimulated 
by the diminution of the motives for industry. They see the 
evils incident to individual ownership of land and unre- 
stricted competition in trade or manufacture. What they do 
not see, is the risk of colossal jobbery and mismanagement in 
the corporate ownership of land, the hardship to consumers 
involved in restHctions on trade or manufactures, or the 
paralysis of individual enterprise sure to ensue ; though all 
of these consequences have been amply demonstrated by past 
experience. In a word, the views of Socialistic reformers, 
though honest, are eminently narrow and short-sighted. They 
are impatient of those slow, but sure, processes which have 
their counterpart in Nature, and by which economical laws, 
no less than physical laws, vindicate themselves in ' the long 
run.' The very idea of ' the long run ' is repulsive to them, 
since their sole aim is to meet the pressure of present 
exigencies. As for the future, they are content to leave it 
to grapple with the ruin which they would bequeath to it; 
and as for the past, they confidently but ignorantly appeal 
to it as attesting the failure of the laissez-faire system, of 
which they speak as if it were an evil power, knowing nothing 
of the miseries which preceded the development of it. 

But is there really no alternative between this system and 
the crude Socialistic proposals to which the new Democracy 
lends so ready an ear ? This is a question which every 
statesman ought now to ask himself, and which, happily, 
admits, if not of a conclusive, yet of a definite, answer. 
Between the principle of absolute non-intervention and the 
revolutionary principle of meddlesome interference with in- 
dividual freedom, lies the whole sphere of legislative evolution 
and constructive reform. A single example, already noticed, 
will illustrate the direction which such legislation may take. 
More than forty years ago the national conscience was shocked 
by revelations of over-work on miserably small wages, espe- 


cially among women and children, in factories. Had the 
Legislature adopted short-sighted counsels, it might have 
attempted to fix a minimum rate of wages, at so much per 
hour, leaving the workpeople to fix their own number of 
hours. In this attempt it would assuredly have failed, and 
might very probably have aggravated the evil to be cured. 
Instead of this, it left wages to regulate themselves, and 
limited the hours of work, nominally for women and children, 
but incidentally for all factory-workers. The result has been, 
on the whole, economically successful, as well as beneficial to 
health and morals ; actually showing that a greater product, 
with better profits and higher wages, may be obtained from 
reduced hours of work. Here the Legislature wisely antici- 
pated the operation of natural laws, and saved an important 
class of the population the necessity of working out its own 
salvation at a great cost of needless suffering. A similar 
lesson may be learned from the history of the Poor Law. 
When the Poor-Law relief was so administered as to be 
practically a rate in aid of wages, and able-bodied men were 
pensioned off at the expense of their neighbours, the rural 
labourers were pauperised and demoralised by it ; when the 
workhouse test was firmly but judiciously enforced, not only 
was thrift encouraged, but the standard of wages was sensibly 
raised. What such examples show is that legislation which 
may be called Socialistic is not always mischievous ; but that 
it needs a high order of statesmanship to distinguish between 
the cheap form of State intervention which defeats its own 
object, and the rarer form which, hke the art of the skilful 
physician, aids and strengthens the remedial forces of Nature. 
Those who still idoUse ' the State ' would do well to ask them- 
selves what ' the State ' really is ; and how it is possible for 
it to possess any wisdom beyond that which it derives from 
the individuals who constitute it. They would then discover 
that, after all, the object of their worship is not a Supreme, 
nor even a Superior, being, but only a convenient expression 
for Ministers, parliamentary representatives and officials, 
more or less capable and more or less public-spirited, but 

Q 2 


creatures of like passions with ourselves, quite as fallible, 
more open to motives of jobbery, and far less competent to 
manage property than individual owners personally looking 
after their own ailairs on the spot, knowing their own wants 
and studying their own interests. Having realised this, once 
for all, they could not fail to see why the presumption should 
always he in favour of individual liberty ; subject, however, 
to many necessary exceptions. Of course, no strict rules can 
be laid down for determining in what cases it may be wise to 
set aside this presumption, and to substitute legislative com- 
pulsion for the law of liberty. But there are some principles 
which may help to guide us, and to save us from delusive 
projects for regenerating society without regenerating the 
units of which it is composed. 

Foremost among these principles is a scrupulous regard 
for justice between man and man. It may possibly be right, 
for instance, to regulate agricultural tenancies by law ; but 
it cannot possibly be right to frame a one-sided code of regu- 
lations — to enable a tenant to get his rent reduced without 
his landlord's consent, but to disable the landlord from getting 
it raised without his tenant's consent. It may be right, be- 
cause for the public good, to facilitate the hiring, or even the 
purchase, of small plots by cottagers, through the agency of 
village corporations ; but it cannot be right to give A.B. the 
power of claiming ' restitution ' from CD., on the absurd plea 
that A.B. may be descended from some one who viay have 
been evicted, several generations ago, by some one else who 
may have been the remote ancestor of CD. It may be right 
to recognise the fact that, in past ages, the interests of 
peasants and artisans were too much neglected by a Parlia- 
ment composed of the landed and commercial aristocracy, not 
out of ill-will or selfishness, but out of pure ignorance ; and 
that, in order to make up arrears of reform in a Democratic 
sense, some knots must be cut which never ought to have 
been tied. But it cannot be right to redress unconscious 
class-legislation in the i^ast by wilful and deliberate class- 
legislation in the present. It may be right to pave the way 


by well-advised measures for a more equal distribution of 
fortunes in the near future ; but it cannot be right to rob 
Peter to pay Paul, to strip men of property honestly acquired 
under the guarantee of the law, and to consecrate a new era 
of Equality and Fraternity, without Liberty, by a flagrant 
breach of public faith. 

Happily, no such violation of morality is involved in the 
advance of Democracy, if only it be wisely led — not in the 
spirit of Cleon, but in that of Pericles. During the blood- 
stained rule of the Paris Commune, two ideas, essentially 
distinct, were persistently confounded — the idea of Commun- 
ism, and the idea of Communalism. The Communal idea, 
instead of being radically opposed to individuality, is really 
the extreme assertion of local individuality, and the right 
of self-government, against the central authority. The Com- 
munistic idea is, logically, the negation of all individuality, 
and especially of the individual right to property. Now, it 
is the former idea, and not the latter, which is in harmony 
with the best and deepest instincts of modern Democracy. 
The pride of citizenshij), as it was felt in ancient Athens, and 
as it is now felt in the United States, not only does not foster 
Communistic sentiment, but is actually an antidote to it. 
Hence it is that America, though it is the favourite trial- 
ground of social experiments, is very little affected by the 
doctrines of Socialism, and still less by those of Communism. 
In proportion as a true manly self-respect is developed in 
a nation or in a class, the sense of weakness out of which 
springs the gregarious craving for State protection will gra- 
dually die out, and give place to nobler aspirations. True 
Democracy will not long tolerate false Socialism ; for true 
Democracy asserts, what false Socialism denies, the supre- 
macy and independence of the individual soul. Not only in 
the material universe, but in the realm of social and political 
speculation, the poet's words are still as true as ever : — 

Though world on world in myriad myriads roll, 
Round us, each with differing powers, 
And other forms of life than ours, — 

What know we greater than the soul ? 


Democracy in its infancy may trifle with Socialism, and use 
it, so to speak, as a plaything; but full-grown Democracy 
will be far more likely to insist, with John Stuart Mill, on the 
indefeasible rights of each man's free-will, except where they 
come into direct collision with the no less sacred rights of 
other men's free-will. It will submit to limitations imposed 
by an authority responsible to itself, for the sake of securing 
the greatest happiness of the greatest number ; but it will be 
very impatient of restrictions imposed by an authority so 
far removed from its own control as a Central Government 
or a National Committee of Lands and Public Works. In 
other words, it will be Communalistic, but it will not be Com- 

The Socialistic tendencies of Democracy, then, are not to 
be condemned or resisted as evil in themselves, but only as 
needing wise and statesmanlike guidance. They are mis- 
chievous, if they encourage a felonious craving for other 
men's property ; they are beneficial, if they inspire honest 
efforts to combine Liberty with Equality and Fraternity. 
They are delusive, so far as they spring from a superstitious 
faith in an imaginary State above all the prejudices and 
weaknesses of human nature, infallible in its judgment, and 
incorruptible in its action ; they are worse than delusive, so 
far as they call upon this earthly Providence not to deliver 
us from, but, on the contrary, to gratify, the passions of 
envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. But they are 
sound and healthy, so far as they foster an earnest and robust 
faith in self-government, as a means of securing higher ends 
than mere national defence or internal police. The cynical 
view of human affairs which led Goethe and the First Napoleon 
to despise all schemes of ' world bettering ' can have, and 
ought to have, no place in a Democratic age. Political co- 
operation may effect much good which could never be attained 
through a mere struggle for existence among individuals ; 
and the community has the power of largely improving the 
material and moral condition of its members. Only we must 
never forget that, after all, civilisation is the creation of in- 


dividual energy, and that it is the character of the individual 
members which must determine the character of the com- 
munity. No arbitrary transfer of property, no organisation 
of industry, no artificial creation of social equality, can supply 
the place of intelligence, of temperance, of integrity, of self- 
restraint, or of public spirit ; and the Socialistic Utopia 
demands for its maintenance a diffusion of the Christian 
virtues such as has never yet been witnessed in the history 
of mankind. It is vain to expect of Democratic statecraft 
that which is the proper task of morality and religion ; and 
if the lessons taught on the hills of Galilee two thousand 
years ago had been laid to heart by the human race, there 
would be little need or room for the doctrines of modern 
Socialistic reformers. For these doctrines, so far as they are 
true, are Uttle more than an application of Gospel precepts 
to social politics ; and if Democracy, rising above the selfish 
counsels of demagogues, should ever seek to realise its own 
highest ideal, it will do well to seek inspiration, not from the 
borrowed light of Socialism, but from the original light of 
Christianity itself. 




A Letter to the Editor of ' Thk Times,' May 1886 

Sir, — There is a question which surely lies at the root of the 
Home Eule problem, but which seems to have been hitherto 
strangely neglected. It is the question whether, apart from 
all Imperial considerations, Ireland is fit to govern herself, and 
whether the concession of Home Eule would be a real benefit 
to her people or, on the contrary, the greatest wrong which 
Great Britain could inflict upon them. In discussing this 
question, abstract theories are worthless. It is worse than 
vain to argue with a man who regards all nations as equally 
capable of self-government, and studiously ignores all the 
facts which prove that some nations lack the primary con- 
ditions upon which self-government depends for its success. 
Those who propose a repeal of the Union, and a reversal 
of the policy which all parties in the State have maintained 
since the beginning of this century, are bound to justify their 
action by reasons derived from experience. What light, then, 
does experience throw on the capacity of Ireland for Home 

The failure of ' Grattan's Parliament ' is admitted on all 
hands ; but it is alleged that no fair inference can be drawn 
from that experiment, since Grattan's Parliament represented 
only the Protestant minority, and was largely composed of 
mere nominees. I allow this allegation, though I wish I 
could believe that a Parliament mainly returned by the 
National League would be more honest, enlightened, and 
public-spirited, than Grattan and his Protestant associates. 
The utter profligacy of Irish rule in American cities is equally 


notorious; but it may perhaps be explained away by refer- 
ence to some peculiarity in the American atmosphere. Let 
us, then, resort to other tests, and ask ourselves how far the 
conduct of popular and elective bodies in Ireland encourages 
us to entrust an Irish Legislature with an absolute control 
of Irish affairs. No one disputes the capacity of Irishmen 
for the discharge of public duties. Mr. Gladstone lays great 
stress on the loyalty and courage of the Irish constabulary, 
to whom he might have added the Irish judges and resident 
magistrates. But it happens that all these officials are non- 
elective, and, like Irish officers in the Army, hold their com- 
missions from the Imperial Crown; for which reason Mr. 
Gladstone proposes ultimately to dispense with their services. 
We must look elsewhere for examples of Irish management 
as it would be under a system of Home Rule. In Ireland, 
as in England, there are three important administrative 
areas — the County, the Union, and the Municipality. In 
the County, the chief local authority is the Grand Jury, a 
very anomalous body, mainly nominated by the High Sheriff, 
and anything but representative. This body, since it largely 
consists of more or less independent gentlemen, is admitted 
to do its work honourably and efficiently, even by those who 
most violently — and not unreasonably — condemn its consti- 
tution. It would, of course, disappear under Home Eule. 
In the Union, the local authority is the Board of Guardians, 
partly consisting of magistrates, sitting ex officio, partly of 
elective members. In the Corporate Towns, the local authority 
is the Town Council, entirely consisting of elective members. 
Can any man who knows Ireland point to Irish Boards of 
Guardians and Town Councils as favourable, or as otherwise 
than deterrent, examples of Irish self-government ? Are not 
their proceedings constantly disgraced by rowdyism, jobbery, 
and sedition ? ' Do not many of them act shamelessly as 
committees of the National League, making a predatory use 
of their rating powers, prostituting their pati'onage to sub- 
sidise Nationalist agents, and getting rid of chairmen who 
object to abuse thek functions by putting disloyal resolu- 


tions? Is there any improvement in these respects, or, 
rather, has there not been a steady degeneracy in proportion 
as the Irish gentry have been overborne or driven out by the 
creatures of the National League? In a word, could any man 
who has ever filled the office of Irish Secretary contemplate 
without dismay the creation of an Irish Legislature resem- 
bling the Irish Boards of Guardians and Town Councils ? 

But it is said that self-government has been hitherto 
applied on too modest a scale, and it is suggested that what 
has been so noxious in small doses might prove a sovereign 
remedy if administered wholesale. I might be content to ask 
what conceivable reason can be produced in support of so 
extravagant an assumption. I might dwell on the signal 
dearth in Ireland of all the social and commercial elements 
which might prevent Home Eule from lapsing into anarchy ; 
on the want of any stable or substantial middle class ; on the 
subservience of the priests to agitators who have the power 
of cutting off their means of subsistence ; on the ruinous 
influence of a Press which stands alone in Europe for scur- 
rilous mendacity, which propagates atrocious doctrines with- 
out reserve, and which has devoted itself for many years past 
to educating the people into lawlessness and violence. But 
all these objections, however powerful, are no more than 
illustrations of a broader and more fundamental objection to 
Irish Home Rule — that it is hopelessly inconsistent with Irish 
liberty, in any true sense of the word. For there can be no 
greater delusion than to confound national emancipation from 
British control with the enjoyment of individual independence 
in Ireland, or to imagine that an Irish peasant, relieved from 
British ' coercion,' would be free to act and vote according 
to his conscience. Coercion, indeed ! Why, Ireland is now 
groaning under the most execrable form of coercion recorded 
in her history, and the despotism of Strafford or of Cromwell, 
though it may have been more imposing, was not so oppres- 
sive as the despotism of the National League. We are told, 
forsooth, that 85 per cent, of the Irish constituencies have 
declared in favour of National League candidates. Can we 


doubt that if a plebiscite had been taken in Paris a few weeks 
before Eobespierre's fall, 85 per cent, would have declared in 
favour of the great dictator and the ' Terror,' or that if a 
similar plebiscite had been taken a few days after his fall, 
85 per cent, would have declared in favour of those who had 
the courage to put him down ? Such is the value of plebi- 
scites in communities where a tyrannical Convention rules 
supreme in the outraged name of Liberty. In a country 
where trial by jury is a farce if the criminal is a favourite of 
the dominant faction, and where political courage is an almost 
unknown virtue, what is the moral value of a popular verdict 
procured through the machinery of household suffrage ? In- 
deed, household suffrage, like trial by jury itself, is an essen- 
tially English institution, for which Ireland is at present 
totally unfit, and which no one would have dreamed of ex- 
tending to Ireland except upon the ground — urged again and 
again by the very men who are now for repealing the Union 
— that she was an integral and inseparable part of the United 
Kingdom. Disguise it as we may, there is no such thing as 
manly and intelligent public opinion in Ireland, and to con- 
sult the mass of the people on the question of Home Eule is 
much the same as to consult them on the doctrine of the 
Immaculate Conception. They are the victims, and a section 
of the Liberal party is the dupe, of a compact and perfectly 
unscrupulous conspiracy — a conspiracy organised and sup- 
ported by foreign enemies of Great Britain, which has not 
shrunk from complicity with deeds of blood that shock 
humanity, and which has only been too successful in de- 
moralising, not Irish peasants only, but English statesmen. 

It is difficult to read without shame and indignation the 
apologies made for handing over the destinies of Ireland to 
men who have exhibited the worst features of Irish character, 
and made, too, by those who called Heaven to witness that 
they were incapable of being parties to a Kilmainham Treaty 
far less ignoble and disastrous. If we protest against Home 
Eule, we are challenged to produce an alternative, and re- 
minded with insolent cynicism that, after the offer has once 


been made by a leader of the Liberal Party, it will be almost 
hopeless to govern Ireland on any other terms. This is as 
if it were proposed to repudiate the National Debt, and those 
who resisted it were taunted with the question, ' What is your 
alternative ? Will you repudiate half of it or three-quarters, 
and do you imagine that taxpayers, after being promised 
total repudiation, will ever be satisfied with anything less ? ' 
We are told, again, that if the Home Eule experiment should 
fail, which is admitted to be very possible, we shall retain 
all 'the resources of civilisation,' and can reduce Ireland to 
submission. What does this mean ? It means that, being 
destitute of the courage, statesmanship, and public spirit to 
undertake a difficult task in government, we are to bequeath 
to our successors, not the same task, but one infinitely aggra- 
vated by our cowardice, and requiring a far higher effort of 
political virtue than we are now declining. We are assured 
that Home Rule is inevitable. Why 'inevitable,' except that 
politicians are slavishly bowing down to a political necessity 
of their own creation, instead of manfully resolving to act 
upon their real convictions ? We are exhorted to make a 
final reparation for our cruel misgovernment of Ireland in the 
past by allowing her to govern— to misgovern — herself in the 
future. This appeal, which seems to impose on many persons 
ignorant of Irish history, bristles with so many fallacies that 
it deserves a separate examination. 

It is false that all the evils of Ireland and faults of Irish 
character are the products of English misgovernment. For 
some three centuries after the so-called conquest of Ireland, 
that country, outside the English Pale, enjoyed the blessings 
of Home Eule. After the visit of John, no English king, 
except Eichard II., set foot in Ireland for nearly five cen- 
turies ; no Enghsh army, worthy of the name, except that 
of Eichard II., crossed the Channel between the reign of 
Henry II. and that of Henry VIII. ; while Enghsh law was 
practically confined to four counties. The result was, as it 
was sure to be, a state of savagery and disorder disgraceful 
to Christianity. From this state it was partially rescued by 


the intervention of England, and those who trace all the 
miseries and vices of the people to confiscations made in the 
seventeenth century, and penal laws passed in the eighteenth, 
would do well to study contemporary descriptions of Ireland 
as it was in the sixteenth. However indefensible may have 
been the system of English rule in Ireland between the 
Eebellion of 1641 and the year 1782, it is none the less true 
that whatever civilisation or political institutions Ireland 
possesses it owes to England, and that since 1800 Enghsh 
policy towards Irelaftd, though often unwise, has been guided 
by the sincerest desire to promote the good of the country. 
But, even were it otherwise, how could past injustice be re- 
paired by present injury, and how could Ireland fail to be 
injured by Home Eule if, as I contend, she is demonstrably 
unfit for it ? Repentance is an excellent thing, but that is a 
cheap and mischievous form of penance which consists in 
vilifying our fathers and burdening our posterity by forcing 
a boon known to be fatal upon those to whom atonement is 
supposed to be due. 

If atonement is really due at all, if Great Britain must 
needs reproach herself for wrongs done to Ireland, those 
wrongs have assuredly not been on the side of over-govern- 
ment, and cannot be redressed by leaving Ireland to anarchy. 
Having under our charge one of the most backward popula- 
tions in Europe, richly endowed with intellectual and social 
virtues, but singularly deficient in the political virtues, we 
have persisted in dealing with it as if it needed no stronger 
government than Great Britain. We have declined to pay 
the priests, we have stickled, with pedantic obstinacy, for a 
make-believe unsectarian education, we have upheld the free- 
dom of the Press and the right of public meeting, we have 
stiffly adhered to the dogmas of laissez-faire as concerns the 
development of Irish industries, we have established an uni- 
form franchise throughout Great Britain and Ireland, and all 
because Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom, 
and must not be treated exceptionally. On the other hand, 
with ludicrous inconsistency, we have recognised the excep- 


tional requirements of Ireland by abolishing the Irish branch 
of the Estabhshed Church ; we have given Ireland a land- 
system, not only exceptional, but unique in its one-sided com- 
pUcation among the land-systems of the civilised world ; we 
have rewarded murder and outrage in Ireland by enriching 
the class on whose behalf they were practised at the expense 
of that against which they were practised ; and we listen 
with respect to demands from Ireland which, if they pro- 
ceeded from England and Scotland, would be received with 
derision. It is this pitiful inconsistency — it is this imbecility 
and vacillation — in the Imperial government of Ireland which 
constitutes by far the gravest of all Irish grievances. 'We 
have tried everything ' — yes, ' everything by turns, and 
nothing long.' We have never tried a firm, just, and con- 
sistent pohcy. We pass Acts necessary for the protection of 
life and property (miscalled Coercion Acts) for periods skil- 
fully contrived to elapse when the difficulty of renewing them 
shall be greatest, instead of fixing no time for their expiration, 
and leaving them to operate until they can be safely repealed. 
Our foremost statesman denounces the leaders of the Nation- 
alist conspiracy as apostles of 'public plunder,' consigning 
some of them to Kilmainham Gaol, and then professes un- 
limited confidence in their patriotism and moderation. He 
invites all classes of Irishmen to co-operate harmoniously for 
the good of their common country, and in the same breath he 
invites the most capable and loyal class to expatriate itself on 
ruinous terms, lest it should be robbed by the majority. No ! 
we have tried, it is true, every shift of time-serving expedi- 
ency, but we have not tried far-sighted statesmanship, im- 
partial justice, and a continuous enforcement of law and 

This is the one inestimable benefit which Ireland cannot 
realise for herself, which Great Britain could bestow upon 
her, but which party spirit and popularity-hunting have as 
yet deterred us from granting her. Let men of both parties, 
not yet pledged to Home Eule, agree to withdraw Ireland, 
like India, from the ordinary sphere of party warfare ; let the 



aim of Parliament be, not to silence clamour, but to restore 
a sense of permanent security in Ireland ; let us think more 
of protecting honest men in their rights than of reconciling 
irreconcilable enemies of the law ; let us study Irish interests 
rather than Irish demands ; and let this policy be maintained 
until the Irish nation shall have unlearned the evil lessons 
of the last few years. In other words, let us at last give 
Ireland what has always been the one thing needful for her — 
a strong Executive Government. Under the shelter of such 
a Government, it would be found possible to allow a much 
greater elasticity of administration, and even a much larger 
measure of local autonomy, than would otherwise be com- 
patible with Imperial rule. But the maintenance of a con- 
tinuous policy and a strong Government for Ireland certainly 
involves one serious difficulty, which some regard as insuper- 
able. It would require a great sacrifice of party spirit to 
patriotism, and a vigorous display of that capacity for Empire 
by which England in times past won her place among the 
nations. This objection must be admitted ; but does it not 
tell, with still greater force, against Home Eule? Will it 
require a less sacrifice of party spirit and less cajiacity for 
Empire to work a ' dog-collar union ' with Ireland, under 
Mr. Gladstone's Bill, than to preserve the existing legislative 
Union and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament ? And, 
if Home Eule should fail, as fail it must under the control of 
Irish-American adventurers, will not the hasty concession of 
it be remembered in history as a consummation of the wrongs 
endured by Ireland at the hands of Great Britain, and may 
not the next generation of Irishmen rise up and curse us for 
it, with far better reason than can be shown by those who 
have so freely cursed us before ? 

I remain. Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

Geoege G. Brodrick. 

Merton College, Oxford, 
May, 1«8G. 



A Letter to the Editor of ' The Times,' October 1886. 

Sir, — Those who have earnestly striven to defeat Mr. Glad- 
stone's Home Eule policy, and are resolved to oppose the 
revival of it, ought now seriously to consider what principles 
should guide the Imperial Legislature in the government of 
Ireland under the Union. Not that any special obligation 
rests upon the opponents of Home Eule to devise what is 
called an alternative policy. The only alternative policy 
which they need propose is that policy to which Mr. Glad- 
stone, in common with all British statesmen, had adhered 
during a political lifetime of more than fifty years, though 
he has at last abandoned it for an alliance with Mr. Parnell. 
No doubt, the fact of this alliance and the disastrous adoption 
by Mr. Gladstone's followers of a measure which few of them 
conscientiously approved, have infinitely increased the diffi- 
culty of governing Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom. 
But the difficulties of Irish government would not only have 
been great, they would have been insuperable, xmder a system 
of Home Piule which utterly failed to satisfy the Nationalistic 
demand, which involved incessant friction between the Im- 
perial and the Irish Executive, which gave over the control 
of the police to a conspiracy eminently requiring to be kept 
under police supervision, which could not have been imposed 
upon Ulster without provoking civil war, and which must in- 
evitably have led to Separation by a lingering process. No ! 
the difficulties of Irish government are not the creation of 
the Unionists ; they are not even the creation of the Home 

B 2 


Eulers, greatly as they have been aggravated by that section 
of the Liberal Party ; they are the growth of centuries, and 
can only be overcome, if at all, by a remedial policy steadily 
maintained for more than one generation. The present ques- 
tion is, what that policy should be — always assuming that a 
decisive majority in the Imperial Parliament is capable of 
rising above the level of partisanship, and of studying, in the 
spirit of a single-minded lawgiver, the permanent interests 
of Ireland. 

In approaching this question, it is of the first importance 
to grasp facts clearly, and to distinguish them from mere 
sentiments or aspirations. For instance, Irish nationality is 
an aspiration, but it has never been embodied in a fact. 
When Edward I. invaded Scotland, he made war upon a 
nation which had long been practically united under one 
king of its own, and when Scotland accepted union with 
England, it had still an independent national Constitution, 
though its sovereign also wore the Crown of England. When 
Henry II. was said to have conquered Ireland — which he 
never did conquer — he found no king of Ireland and no sem- 
blance of an Irish nation, but only a cluster of wild tribes, 
implacably hostile to each other, and living in a chronic state 
of anarchy, compared to which the Saxon Heptarchy was a 
harmonious empire. 

Whatever sense of national unity and community of politi- 
cal interests may now exist in Ireland is not a survival 
of the past — a past which was never present — but the effect 
of English institutions slowly developed and extended through- 
out the island by Imperial agency. Having realised this fact, 
which is not without its bearing on the prospects of Home 
Eule, we have further to realise a second, and very unwel- 
come, fact — that Irishmen are singularly deficient in those 
simple political virtues upon which free institutions entirely 
depend for their success. It is childish to seek in misgovern- 
ment the cause of this inveterate deficiency ; we might as 
well attribute to misgovernment the quick intelligence and 
native courtesy which make the Irish peasantry so attractive 


to foreign visitors. What is certain is, that it has been appa- 
rently inherent in the Irish race ever since it emerged into 
history, that it was this which enabled a handful of Norman 
knights to overrun and overawe Ireland, that it was this 
which kept all Ireland outside the English Pale in a state of 
political and social barbarism during the three centuries 
before the Tudor monarchs undertook its pacification, and 
that this is recognised as a radical weakness of Irish character 
by every Englishman who has studied it since that epoch — 
by Edmund Spenser, by Sir John Davies, by Sir William 
Petty, by Swift, by Berkeley, by Arthur Young, and by the 
most friendly critics of Ireland in our own day. It may be 
convenient to ignore it for popularity-hunting ends, but the 
fact is patent that in the Irish national character, as we see 
it, there is a grievous lack of moral independence, of self- 
respect, of political courage, and, above all, of truthfulness. 
There is no such thing as public opinion in Ireland ; what 
passes for it is manufactured to order by a Press whose most 
popular organs stand alone in Europe for scurrilous men- 
dacity, by demagogues in the pay of American revolutionists, 
and by priests who exhibit sympathy with lawlessness and 
crime lest they should lose all hold over their flocks. Few 
of the Irish peasantry have ever heard or read the words of 
truth and soberness in regard to politics, and the successful 
policy of outrage-mongers, endorsed by English statesmen, 
has perverted such conceptions as they had before of public 
morality. If we look at the conduct of Irish elections, if we 
look at the gi-oss jobbery which prevails in municipal and 
Poor-Law administration, if we look at the shameful venality 
and shameless dishonesty which impose on Irish popular 
opinion, we may well be tempted to despair of developing a 
healthy public spirit in a community so demoralised, and the 
words may perhaps rise before us — ' A wonderful and horrible 
thing is committed in the land ; the prophets prophesy falsely, 
and the priests bear rule by their means ; and My people love 
to have it so : and what will ye do in the end thereof ? ' 

But despair should find no place in the counsels of states- 



men ; and, having once realised the facts, we have now to 
discover how to make the best of them. Let us study dis- 
passionately, not the demands, but the wants of the Irish 
people ; not what remedies an Irish Legislature would apply, 
but what it ought to apply. The so-called demands of Ireland 
will assuredly never be satisfied, because they are carefully 
formulated by irreconcilable enemies of Great Britain, who 
have no desu'e to see them satisfied, treating each concession 
as blackmail extorted by fear and as a starting-point for a 
new agitation. But the real wants of Ireland deserve atten- 
tive consideration, and the more so, if the illusory demands 
of Ireland be firmly rejected. Nor must any British prejudice 
or conventional dogma be allowed to stand in the way of such 
a consideration. Now, one of these dogmas, repeated glibly on 
platforms in times past by those who now advocate Home Rule, 
and still repeated too often by Unionist speakers, is that 
Ireland is entitled to have all its institutions put on an exact 
equality with those of Great Britain — as if, by the way, there 
were no difference between English and Scotch institutions. 
Perhaps it might have been well if this policy of uniformity 
and complete amalgamation had been initiated at the Union, 
and gradually carried out by subsequent legislation. But it 
is needless to point out that a very opposite policy has been 
adopted for many years under Liberal Governments, and that 
of late especially the tendency has been to legislate for Ireland 
according to Irish ideas (as understood by Englishmen), and 
to make the contrast between English and Irish institutions 
more striking than ever. The Irish Church has been dis- 
established, though its establishment was a fundamental 
article of the Union, because the balance of creeds in Ireland 
differed so widely from that in Great Britain that its main- 
tenance was held to be indefensible. The land-system of 
Ireland has been twice remodelled upon principles for which 
no precedent is to be found in the agrarian codes of Europe 
or America, and the last Irish Land Act has created a dual 
ownership of the very kind which successive law reforms 
have nearly abolished in England, while in Prussia it was 


absolutely abolished by Stein and Hardenberg. And the 
argument which reconciled English politicians to this re- 
actionary expedient was that Irish tenures were so unique, 
and Irish tenants so utterly helpless, that it was necessary to 
override freedom of contract and protect them against them- 
selves. The Irish system of public education is not so purely 
Irish, and the bugbear of ' concurrent endowment ' has pre- 
vented its being wisely adapted to Irish wants and circum- 
stances. Still, it is far more denominational than would be 
tolerated by Liberal sentiment in England or Scotland, and 
very large saci'ifices of this sentiment have been made to 
satisfy the claims of Irish Catholics in respect of secondary 
and University education. It is needless to add that Ireland 
has a police system of its own, and that no English states- 
man, except those who have gone over to Home Eule, has 
seriously advocated placing the Irish police under the control 
of the local authorities in counties and boroughs. It would 
be easy to multiply these instances of flagrant disparity 
between Irish and English institutions, and to show that all 
of them, except the peculiar organisation of the Irish police, 
have been introduced in deference to the plea that Irishmen 
must be governed in their own way — a plea strenuously urged 
by the same class of partisans who, in the same breath, 
clamour for the extension of every English privilege and in- 
stitution to Ireland. It is too late to adopt this policy of 
assimilation, however salutary it might have been if adopted 
earlier. Having subverted the Church system, the land- 
system, and the educational system of Ireland, and recon- 
structed them on an Irish pattern, because Irishmen are 
unfit for the same institutions as Englishmen, we cannot, 
with a grave face, insist upon an identity of local government 
between the two countries because, forsooth. Irishmen are 
perfectly fit for the same institutions as Englishmen. The 
policy of assimilation and the policy of consulting the special 
wants of Ireland cannot stand together ; we must definitely 
choose between them ; and experience, as well as a regard for 
consistency, warns us that we must now elect the latter. 


The one special want of Ireland which dominates all 
others is the need of security, and the very highest act of 
' justice to Ireland ' which the Imperial Parliament can 
bestow is the prompt and determined restoration of order. 
It is certain that no other Government in Europe, and least 
of all that of the United States, would have tolerated for a 
month the reign of terror which has paralysed all energy in 
Ireland, except the energy of crime, for several years past. 
If the Irish nation were mainly composed of robbers and 
assassins, it might doubtless be treated as tyrannical ' coer- 
cion ' — from an Irish point of view — to put down robbery 
and assassination. But if the Irish nation is mainly com- 
posed of peaceable citizens, glad enough to live quietly, but 
without the moral courage to denounce a few handfuls of 
robbers and assassins, encouraged by the National League, 
and thus enabled to intimidate whole counties, the national 
wrong surely consists in the refusal to protect the sheep 
against the wolves. The victory of the National League over 
the law illustrates the truth of a remark made by Edmund 
Spenser 300 years ago : ' The Irishman, I assure you, fears 
the Government no longer than he is within sight or reach. 
No doubt strict discipline has been enforced by the League, 
and their success in criminal organisation has actually been 
quoted as a proof of Irish capacity for self-government. What 
it really proves is that Irishmen are best governed with a 
strong hand. They have been made to learn that it is far 
safer to defy the law than it is to defy the National League ; 
and, until they are practically convinced of the contrary, the 
stronger power will command their allegiance. 

There are those who, fully recognising the duty of re- 
establishing the security of life, property, and personal inde- 
pendence throughout Ireland, believe that, if the Lord-Lieu- 
tenancy were abolished, that paramount object would be pro- 
moted. I cannot share this opinion, and I have always re- 
garded it as a redeeming feature of Mr. Gladstone's Home 
Eule Bill that it preserved the Lord-Lieutenancy, however 
thankless and unenviable that office would have become. 


When its abolition was contemplated by Lord Eussell and 
other Liberals of the old school, the measure recommended 
itself as part and parcel of the policy of assimilation, whereby 
the Irish Channel was to be gradually bridged over, and all 
badges of difference obliterated. That policy has now been 
abandoned for the counter-policy of special legislation for 
Ireland, and the abolition of the Viceroyalty would destroy, 
not only a standing monument of Imperial rule, but a valu- 
able instrument for mediation between Irish and English 
opinion. Torrents of abuse have been poured upon ' the 
Castle ' by Irish demagogues, and it is quite possible that 
some useful reforms might be introduced into Castle bureau- 
cracy. But the broad fact remains that ' the Castle ' really 
consists of a few officials, mostly both honest and able, far 
more accessible to Irish influences than Under-Secretaries 
or clerks at the Home Office, and traditionally disposed to 
modify Imperial instructions so as to conciliate Irish pre- 
judices. The besetting sin of ' the Castle ' is not its despotism, 
but its weakness, and if the principle of local self-government 
is to be extended in Ireland, it becomes vitally necessary to 
strengthen the power of the Central Executive, whether it be 
lodged in Dublin Castle or elsewhere. How this should be 
done with the least possible risk of abuse is a problem for 
those — of whom there are, happily, several belonging to both 
parties — who are practically familiar with Irish administra- 
tion. One very obvious means of increasing the stability of 
this administration would be to separate the Viceroyalty of 
Ireland, like that of India, from the Government of the day, 
and to make it tenable for a certain number of years, which 
might be extended by re-appointment. Another method of 
reinforcing the Irish Executive, and at the same time of satis- 
fying the reasonable demand for a semi-legislative tribunal 
in Dublin, would be to reconstitute the Irish Privy Council 
on a more representative basis, and to arm it with authority 
to deal with much of the Irish local business now transacted 
at Westminster. Advised by such a body, and under such 
other constitutional safeguards as may be thought necessary. 


the Lord-Lieutenant might be properly entrusted with very 
large powers of proclaiming counties or smaller districts in 
which, after due warning, law and order should continue to 
be overborne by the rule of lawless violence. Suppose the 
proclaimed district to be a county, one effect of such a pro- 
clamation might be that the supreme command of the police 
force, as well as of Her Majesty's troops, within it, should 
pass into the hands of a military officer specially appointed 
for the purpose. Another effect might be that the Parlia- 
mentary representation of the county or county division 
should be suspended. Parliamentary representation assumes 
the existence of conditions under which citizens can act and 
vote freely. Where these conditions are absent — where juries 
dare not convict, where creditors dare not collect their debts, 
where farmers dare not take vacant farms or make their own 
terms with their landlords, where a secret conspiracy tyran- 
nises over the minds and consciences of the whole community 
— Parliamentary elections are a perfect farce, and the so- 
called representatives are the delegates of the very body which 
the law ought to crush. It would be true mercy to suspend 
also the operation of trial by jury in proclaimed districts, and 
to substitute for it provisionally the jurisdiction of special 
commissions ; but, in default of this, it might be sufficient 
to borrow from the Crimes Act the provisions for change of 
venue. A few examples of this kind might be expected to 
work miracles, unless, indeed, the conspirators were encour- 
aged to believe that at any moment, under some time-serving 
impulse, the strong hand might be withdrawn. Let it be 
once understood throughout Ireland that, where the peace of 
counties cannot be secured by the ordinary processes of law, 
or by the action of law-abiding citizens, it shall be secured 
by the Executive power, but at no light sacrifice of civil 
rights, and the spell of the National League will be thence- 
forth broken. But this conviction will not be easily impressed 
on the popular mind after the evil lessons which have lately 
been taught it by successive Governments, and the applica- 
tion of such remedies will require a tenacity of purpose to 


which we have long been strangers. On the other hand, let 
it never be forgotten that a greater tenacity of purpose and 
far higher efforts of political courage will be needed to re- 
conquer Ireland, if Home Rule be granted, and produce its 
inevitable results in hostile Separation. 

But though restoration of security must be the first 
object of a true statesman labouring to rescue Ireland from 
its present hopeless condition, it should not be his only or 
ultimate object. Given security and a Central Executive 
strong enough to suppress all rebellion and outrage, it would 
be safe and wise to govern Ireland more in accordance with 
Irish ideas than has been attempted since the Union. In 
the first place, it should be governed, so far as possible, 
through Irishmen. It is true that, since the most loyal and 
independent class has been almost driven out of the country, 
it is very difficult to find Irishmen capable of filling respon- 
sible positions bravely and impartially. It is true, also, that 
the one thoroughbred Irishman who has lately held the office 
of Permanent Secretary was brutally murdered by hired 
assassins, and that in the face of day. Still, there are Irish 
gentlemen of high ability and unblemished honour, and the 
inability to distinguish these from the professional order of 
Irish patriots has been among the weaknesses of recent Irish 
policy. If they could feel sure of not being thrown over by 
the next Cabinet and betrayed into the hands of rebels, men 
of this type might be induced to do good service in central, 
and even in local, government. For it is vain to contend 
against a further extension of self-government in Irish coun- 
ties ; not that Irishmen are really fit for the civil liberties 
which they already enjoy, but that in order to make them 
fit they must be released from leading strings, while they are 
restrained from acts of injustice by an effective power of veto. 
There is a process which relieves water of certain mineral 
elements by overcharging it with similar elements until it 
precipitates the whole of them. This process is applicable 
to Irish local government, and it is probable that a recon- 
struction of the gi'and jury system on a more popular basis, 


■with a right of supervision over smaller local bodies, would 
tend rather to purify the action of these bodies than to in- 
tensify the rowdyism and corruption which now disgrace 
them. Only it is absolutely essential, for the present, that 
a power of annulling iniquitous resolutions of local bodies, 
whether municipal corporations, town councils, boards of 
guardians, or grand juries, should be reserved by the Central 
Executive. Until Ireland has learned the alphabet of political 
justice — until a predatory or vindictive use of the rating 
power be as impossible there as in England — centralisation 
is a necessary evil. 

But these gross abuses are largely, though by no means 
wholly, due to the unsettled state of the land question. Mr. 
Gladstone's well-meant but most unstatesmanlike reforms have 
not in the slightest degree advanced the settlement of this 
question ; on the contrary, they have but whetted the appetites 
of tenants for their landlords' property, and artificially pro- 
moted the survival of the unfittest in the favoured class of 
* present tenants.' Having gone so far, we must go a step 
further — buy out the landlords on equitable terms, place the 
State in the position which it occupies in India, and convert 
rent into a fixed terminable rent-charge or tribute. Of course, 
there are manifold objections to such a measure, and the 
benefit of it would be reaped by men who have done nothing 
to deserve it. We hear much of 'restitution,' but in fact 
very few Irish tenants represent the original owners, or have 
any titles whatever beyond those of English tenants, while in 
many cases the expropriation of landlords would mean the 
substitution of an owner descended from a CromweUian trooper 
for an owner descended from a CromweUian captain. Nor 
would the measure do much to transfer Irish soil from aliens 
to natives. The vast majority of Irish landlords, including 
all the worst, are already natives, and the few, though large, 
estates of absentee English noblemen, are for the most i^art 
liberally managed. Still, the general creation of a peasant 
proprietary in Ireland, if it could be accomplished, would cut 
the ground from under the present agrarian agitation, and 


rally whatever manhood is still to be found in Irish farmers 
against the oppression of the National League. That body 
might continue to foment disloyalty and rebelUon, as well as 
to instigate strikes against the payment of instalments due 
to the State, but they would find soldiers less easy to scare 
than bailiffs, and, as there would be no landlords, there would 
be no hostile class to vilify or to despoil. Probably, for a 
while, there would be as many agrarian murders and moon- 
light outrages as ever, for the struggle for land would go on 
though evictions should cease; but it would relapse into its 
primitive form of private and domestic blood-feuds, instead 
of being directed by an organised conspiracy. Whether 
' present tenants,' even if transformed into landowners, will 
long be able to retain their ill-earned monopoly against the 
claim of town-artisans and agricultural labourers to a share 
of the national soil, is a very different question ; but, at all 
events, their selfish instincts will be enlisted on the side of 
the law. A landed Democracy is as conservative by nature 
as a landed Aristocracy, and it would not be surprising if the 
new proprietors should form Vigilance Committees to protect 
themselves against landless assailants. 

If the land question were once settled — if this eternal 
source of disaffection could be eradicated from the minds of 
the Irish peasantry — one main obstacle to a revival of Irish 
industry and trade would be removed. It is a common 
delusion to account for the scarcity of manufactures in 
Ireland by the absence of coal-fields. No doubt, there is 
little or no coal produced in Ireland ; but it is easily im- 
ported, and is cheaper at Wexford or Waterford than it is 
in some manufacturing-towns of England. The reason why 
the south of Ireland is so destitute of manufactories is 
that a sense of insecurity has driven away capital from it, 
and that it is inhabited by a population singularly deficient 
in enterprise or steadiness. The natural and only remedy is 
the restoration of security, coupled with the development, by 
every legitimate means, of proprietorship and industry. No 
one scruples to invoke State aid for the development of pro- 

254 THE go\'i:rnment of irkland under the uxiox 

prietorship, but it needs some courage to recommend the 
same method for the development of industry. Nevertheless, 
I venture to maintain that if one-tenth of what Ireland has 
lost through revolutionary experiments on its land-system 
had been wisely invested on public works, the prospects of 
Irish finance would be far brighter, and the national character 
would have been improved instead of being deteriorated. But 
though political economy was banished to Jupiter or Saturn 
in deference to agrarian intimidation, we have obstinately 
stickled for its supposed dogmas against every suggestion of 
State subventions for other purposes. It is time for us to 
reconsider this one-sided application of our economical creed 
to Ireland, and, moreover, to ask ourselves whether it is 
worth our while to maintain there a system of education 
theoretically unsectarian, though practically modified to meet 
sectarian prejudices. Let it be granted that, if Ireland were 
in an advanced state of civilisation, and if it were not torn 
asunder by furious religious animosities, such as have broken 
out into civil war at Belfast, it would be all the better for 
unsectarian education. Such was the benevolent idea of 
Whately and his coadjutors, but it has been tried and has 
failed. Ireland is still a very backward country, and mes- 
sages of peace have not calmed religious passion. Why 
not recognise facts, give up the fiction of mixed education in 
elementary schools, and endow a Catholic University? It 
is too late to pay the priests, or to renew the dependence of 
Maynooth on an annual grant. But it is not too late to 
place the highest education within the reach of the Eoman 
Catholic laity, on terms which they will accept ; and, whether 
or not the boon should ehcit gratitude, it would be a sub- 
stantial benefit to Ireland. 

For the present, then, our policy for Ireland should be 
founded on a vigorous assertion of Imperial authority, com- 
bined with an unprejudiced and sympathetic regard for Irish 
interests and feelings. This is a very different thing from 
the policy of ' delegation ' proposed by Lord Monck as a 
happy medium between the schemes of Mr. Gladstone and 


Mr. Parnell on the one side, and the supposed ideas of Lord 
Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain on the other. ' Delegation ' 
of Imperial functions, however strictly limited, to a legislative 
body in Dublin, would practically mean, as Lord Monck 
admits, the creation of a ' statutory Parliament,' and a statu- 
tory Parliament, receiving its instructions from America, 
would never rest till it had issued a declaration of national 
independence. Delegation of similar functions to four pro- 
vincial councils would be open to less objection, but it would 
also be less effectual for any good purpose, and, like the 
former plan, it would be damned beforehand as a miserable 
counterfeit of Home Eule. There is no prospect of peace for 
Ireland except in the maintenance of the Union in all its 
essential features ; and the main difficulty of governing Ireland 
under the Union does not lie in Dublin, but at Westminster. 
The policy of Home Eule, as advocated by Mr. Gladstone and 
other recent converts, was essentially a policy of despair. 
They scarcely affected to believe in its merits or success, and 
preferred to rely on the hopelessness of inducing the English 
and Scotch people to support any Government in the measures 
necessary to keep order in Ireland without Home Eule. It 
is for the English and Scotch people, who have rejected Home 
Eule at the poll, to refute this argument in the only con- 
clusive way, to rescue Ireland from the intrigues of politicians, 
and to give the Union a fairer chance than it has had since 
the good of Ireland has been forgotten in party competition 
for the Irish vote. 

I am, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

George C. Brodrick. 

Merton College, Oxford. 
October 26, 188G. 



The recent presentafion of an address to Lord Hartington 
from Liberal Unionist graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, 
followed by the Spalding and Coventry elections, has naturally 
recalled public attention to Mr. Gladstone's favourite anti- 
thesis of ' the classes ' and ' the masses.' That sinister appeal 
to the pride and prejudice of ignorance was perhaps his 
gravest lapse from patriotism and statesmanship, until he 
was tempted, in an evil moment, to reveal the real spirit of 
Home Eule policy by endeavouring to revive provincial anti- 
pathies among the Scotch and Welsh branches of the British 
nation. Still, the distinction between the political judgments 
of the so-called classes and the so-called masses is by no 
means unmeaning, and it may be profitable to consider its 
bearing on the question of Home Eule for Ireland. 

No impartial student of political history, especially if he 
be a Liberal by conviction, will deny that on many great 
issues of modern politics the instincts of the poorer and less 
educated classes have, in the main, been right, while those 
of the wealthier and more educated classes have, in the main, 
been wrong. The reason is obvious. On these issues the 
apparent interests of the Few have been at variance with the 
apparent interests of the Many, and, inasmuch as Govern- 
ment exists for the benefit of the Many rather than of the Few, 
the cause which ultimately prevailed was not only the popular 
but the better cause. It was not by virtue of superior insight, 
still less by virtue of unselfish motives, that the people at large 
were enabled to appreciate the arguments for a cheap loaf, 

' An Article in the Liberal Unionist, July 20, 1887. 


for instance, but simply by virtue of their own self-interest, 
which it was the duty of the State to recognise as the suprema 
lex, thereby promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest 
number, instead of maintaining Corn Laws for the protection 
of landlords and farmers. This very simple principle ex- 
plains the great majority of cases in which popular opinion 
has proved to be right, and the conservative instincts of 
' society ' have been confuted by the result. Nor must we 
forget that in those cases the general opinion of ' society ' 
has not been always supported by a preponderance of what 
Mr. John Morley terms ' cultivated opinion.' On the con- 
trary, the Corn Laws were denounced by leading economists 
of the highest culture long before their injurious effect was 
understood by the people, and it would be easy to cite in- 
stances, like that of the New Poor Law, in which reforms 
eminently beneficial to the working classes have been forced 
upon them by cultivated opinion. In short, ignorance of all 
that a statesman ought to know is no security for political 
wisdom, nor is the habit of reading books or newspapers, 
with occasional foreign travel, a disqualification for dealing 
with political affairs. Had the privileged classes not been 
privileged, and thus biassed, their judgments would have 
compared most favourably, on most questions of domestic 
policy, with those of the suffering and toiling masses, without 
leisure to master the necessary facts, often without the ability 
to read, and almost always without the will or the power to 
distinguish between specious rhetoric and the words of truth 
and soberness. As for most questions of foreign policy, it 
would be absurd to speak of popular verdicts upon them as 
possessing the slightest value. Had Mr. Gladstone headed 
an agitation in favour of State-right in America — no impos- 
sible supposition — he might well have persuaded vast bodies 
of electors that Secession was as sacred as Home Rule, and 
all the hallowed traditions of Liberalism would have been 
invoked on the side of those who rebelled against the Federal 
Government at Washington. 

Unhappily, to the great majority of British electors Ire- 


land is as much a foreign country as France, and more so 
than the United States of America. To consult the agricul- 
tural labourers of Spalding, as an oracle, on the expediency 
of dissolving the Union, or the conditions upon which Home 
Eule might be reconciled with Imperial control, is like con- 
sulting an infant-school on the highest problems of mathe- 
matics or theology. They may be richly endowed with 
honesty and intelligence, but they have not, and they cannot 
have, the very slightest capacity of examining either the 
historical fictions, miscalled facts, on which Mr. Gladstone 
mainly rests his case, or the present circumstances of Ireland, 
on which the most capable authorities differ so widely. They 
are, therefore, and they must be, at the mercy of the latest 
or the most plausible speaker ; and the Home Eule emissaries, 
who swarmed over the constituency, take credit for having 
talked them over into a belief in the Nationalist version of 
the Irish story. Let us accept this boast as authentic, and 
let us further assume that agrarian discontent, with the ad- 
vanced bid of six acres and two cows, was not the most 
potent cause of the Gladstonian victory in Lincolnshire. Let 
us then consider, by the light of Home Eule articles or pam- 
phlets, what kind of history is likely to have been instilled 
into the minds of these docile electors, many of whom must 
have passed the school- age before the three E's became 
common accomplishments in country districts, and were 
probably ignorant of the fact that Ireland is an island 
adjacent to Great Britain. 

They were told, we may be sure, that Ireland has been 
shamefully oppressed by England for seven centuries. Did 
they know — what Mr. Gladstone evidently does not know — 
that for some three centuries after the so-called Conquest of 
Ireland that country, outside the English Pale (consisting 
of four counties and two or three seaports), enjoyed the 
blessings of Home Eule ; that, after the visit of John, no 
English king, except Eichard II., set foot in Ireland for 
nearly five centuries ; that no English army worthy of the 
name, except that of Eichard II., crossed the Channel be- 


tween the reign of Henry II. and that of Henry VIII. ; that 
no laws were made for the great body of Irishmen by the 
EngHsh Parhament ; and that, left to itself, Ireland relapsed 
into a state of savagery and anarchy disgraceful to Chris- 
tianity? They were doubtless taught that the Irish nation 
was deliberately crushed by its English conquerors. Was 
there any one to inform them that no Irish nation ever 
existed within the period of historical memory ; that Ireland, 
when it was invaded by Strongbow, was a mere ' geographical 
expression,' inhabited by a cluster of hostile tribes, under 
different chiefs, and owing allegiance to no single king ; that 
it owes to England whatever unity or sense of nationality it 
has since acquired ; and that it has borrowed from England 
every civil or political institution which it now enjoys, in- 
cluding some which it is not yet civilised enough to use 
without abuse ? They were made to believe, on the infallible 
authority of Mr. Gladstone, that England at the Union 
feloniously robbed Ireland of its old native Parliament. Did 
they suspect that Ireland never had a native Parliament ; 
that the assembly so grossly misdescribed was created by 
England for its own purposes, and represented only the 
English colony ; that it was this very ' Irish Parliament ' 
which passed the atrocious code of penal laws against the 
Catholics ; and that even in its golden age, under Grattan, 
it never won the confidence of the Irish peoi^le ? They knew 
that Mr. Gladstone had exhausted the vocabulary of vitupe- 
ration on the means whereby the Union was carried. Were 
they aware that his charges have been combated and (as 
some think) disproved by Dr. Ingram and other historians 
of the period ; that Grattan's Parhament had always been 
maintained and managed by the same questionable agencies 
as were employed to procure its self-extinction ; that the 
Union was desired by a majority of the Irish Catholics, and 
that its chief opponents were the very classes who now protest 
against its Piepeal ? They were told that all the vices and 
miseries of Ireland are the natural products of English mis- 
rule. Could they divine that, on the contrary, these evils 


were all rife and rampant long before English rule was esta- 
blished (except in four counties), and are most graphically 
described by Spenser nearly a century before the events to 
which they are traced back ? They were, of course, plied 
with invectives against the horrors of Irish landlordism, 
and persuaded that Irish tenants, unlike the English, are 
defenceless at law against the exaction of extortionate rents. 
Might it not have surprised them to discover that, on the 
contrary, the Irish tenant, by the Act of 1870, was given a 
security for his improvements unknown to British tenants, 
as well as a right to compensation for disturbance ; while 
by the Act of 1881 he acquired privileges almost amounting 
to joint ownership, and far beyond those enjoyed by tenants 
in any other country of Europe, or in any State of America? 
Their minds were harrowed by tales of eviction for non-pay- 
ment of ' impossible rents.' Did they receive any intimation 
that Irish rents, already much lower on the average than 
rents in Great Britain, had been lately reduced by judicial 
courts ; that large premiums are habitually paid by incoming 
tenants for the possession of farms alleged to be rack-rented ; 
that land in Ireland is habitually sublet at a rent far above 
that demanded by the landlord ; and that multitudes of 
tenants are not only able and willing to pay, but do clan- 
destinely pay, rents which the National League declares 
to be impossible, and commands them to refuse on pain of 
Moonlight outrage ? They were assured that public opinion 
throughout Ireland supports the National League. Had 
they knowledge enough of that unhappy country to realise 
that it is in the grip of a terrorist conspiracy, under which 
no such thing as public opinion can exist ; that what passes 
for it is manufactured to order by the most infamous Press 
in Europe, by demagogues in the pay of American revolu- 
tionists, and by priests who affect sympathy with lawlessness 
and crime in the vain hope of retaining control over the 
people? They were led to imagine that Unionists upheld 
the Union solely for the sake of Imperial interests, and that, 
if Irish interests alone were concerned, it might be safely 


and hojiefully abandoned. Did they ask themselves whether, 
apart from all Imperial considerations, Ireland is fit to govern 
itself, and whether the concession of Home Eule would be a 
real benefit to it, or, rather, the greatest wrong that Great 
Britain could inflict upon it ? They may have casually 
heard of ' The Case of England against Home Eule.' Were 
they cognisant of the reasons which, to many enlightened 
minds, render the Case of Ireland against Home Rule tenfold 
more cogent ? 

These are but specimens of the questions which must be 
faced and answered by any one, whether he be a member of 
the classes or the masses, who seeks to form an independent 
opinion on the policy of Home Eule. How many of the 
Spalding electors are likely to have entertained them, or to 
possess the most second-hand and superficial acquaintance 
with them? But then we are told by Mr. John Morley 
in plain, though courteous, language, that ' academic and 
literary opinion ' is equally ignorant of Irish affairs, and we 
are advised ' to master three or four Irish Blue Books,' just 
as Mr. Gladstone is never tired of advising us to study 
Irish history during the past century. The advice is ex- 
cellent, but it comes somewhat late ; it scarcely goes far 
enough, and perhaps it is not more needed by educated 
Unionists than by educated Home Eulers. Few, indeed, 
have the profound knowledge of Irish history and Irish 
character which could alone entitle a statesman to grapple 
confidently with the present crisis in Ireland. But the 
Unionist Party contains a large proportion of historians, 
publicists, and thoughtful students of politics, who had mas- 
tered far more than three or four Irish Blue Books, and car- 
ried their researches into Irish history much further back 
than one century, before Mr. John Morley began the former 
course of study, or Mr. Gladstone the latter. The judgment 
of such men is doubtless fallible ; nor must we ignore the 
' cultivated opinion ' on the side of Home Eule ; but it cer- 
tainly outweighs that of foreign theorists, whom Mr. Glad- 
stone mistakes for 'the civiHsed world,' and it differs from 


the tumultuous verdicts of the vox papuli in the all-important 
respect that it is founded, not on impulse, but on a process 
of reasoning. Not that Messrs. Gladstone and John Morley 
have a right to claim the ' masses ' as their adherents. When 
the great Liberal army broke up into two sections, they 
succeeded, it is true, in carrying most of the regimental 
colours and bands into their new camp. But most of the 
steadiest officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, 
declined to follow them, and the result of the last general 
election shows that a very large number of the rank-and-file 
preferred the leadership of Lord Hartington, However this 
may be, the recent ' speeches of Mr. John Morley at Man- 
chester, and of Mr. Bryce in Parliament, amount to an 
admission that Unionism is the prevailing creed, not only of 
the classes, but of highly-educated Englishmen. This is a 
very significant admission, and it was because they were 
known to represent a large majority of educated Englishmen 
that the University deputation to Lord Hartington assumed 
a national importance. The one argument for Irish Home 
Eule which comes home to English Democracy is the argu- 
ment that, by conceding it, we should get rid of the Irish 
difficulty at a stroke, and set Parliament free to legislate 
for the good of the English masses. The utter hoUowness of 
this argument is apparent only to ' cultivated opinion ' — the 
opinion of men who, if they have not lived in Ireland, have 
at least taken pains to master the evidence on Irish questions. 
And perhaps the best service which such men can render to 
the Union cause, is to convince the masses that Home Eule 
would bring, not peace, but a sword — that it would not close 
the long account of Irish rebellion, but would open a new 
chapter of rebellious agitation, organised by the foreign 
enemies of Great Britain, and ending in armed Secession, 
only to be crushed by Civil War. 



It is often said, and still oftener tacitly assumed, that two 
years of constant discussion in Parliament and the Press 
have fairly exhausted the Irish Question, so that nothing 
remains but to criticise each fresh jjroposal by the light of 
facts within the knowledge of all. Probably no similar as- 
sumption was ever more unfounded. Not one in a thousand 
among those who talk, or even write, glibly about the merits 
of Home Eule, has taken the smallest pains to study the 
history and character of the Irish people, upon which our 
judgment of that policy ought mainly, if not solely, to depend. 
As for the less educated portion of the ' masses,' whose 
imaginary verdict is treated with profound respect, it may 
be doubted whether some of them have even yet fully realised 
that Ireland is an island adjacent to Great Britain, or whether 
the majority of them are aware that, in all essential respects, 
it is governed under the very same laws as England. Of 
course, the average intelligence of English or Scotch ' classes ' 
is above this level, and those of them who read the news- 
papers cannot fail to have picked up some fragments of in- 
formation about Ireland. Yet how few could pass the simplest 
examination in the alphabet of a subject on which their de- 
cision must affect the destiny of both countries in all future 
ages. Even in educated society it is common to hear state- 
ments made which betray utter ignorance, not only of early 
Irish history, but of recent Irish legislation. Nor is this 
ignorance confined to Home Eulers. In their eagerness to 
wash their hands of the past, and to concentrate their attacks 

' National Review, 1888. 


on Mr. Gladstone's Home Eule Bill, Unionists are too apt to 
accept grossly exaggerated versions of the historical wrongs 
suffered by Ireland, and to practise that cheap but mis- 
chievous form of jDcnance which consists in vilifying the 
policy of English statesmen in former generations, as if they 
were mainly responsible for Irish misery and discontent, and 
as if these evils could be eradicated by the simple expedient 
of turning over a new leaf. It may, therefore, be opportune 
and profitable to recall some ' Plain Facts about Ireland,' 
which may tend to correct such impressions, which admit 
of being easily verified, and which have a direct bearing on 
the issue now before Parliament. 

The enumeration of these facts by no means implies or 
involves oblivion of other facts, equally well attested, which 
reflect discredit on English rule in Ireland, before it formed 
part of the United Kingdom. Whatever explanations or 
excuses may be offered for them, no one can justify such acts 
as the arbitrary Establishment of the Eeformed Church in 
Ireland, the wholesale confiscations of the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, the Penal Laws against Catholics of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, or the commercial 
restrictions, dating from the vice-royalty of Strafford, which 
crushed the staple branch of Irish industry for the benefit 
of English trade. It has been sought, indeed, to extenuate 
this last grievance by the allegation that it was only a part 
of a benevolent, though unsound, system under which the 
whole commerce of both realms was regulated at the dis- 
cretion of the Legislature. No doubt, the famous Address 
from both Houses of the English Parhament to William III., 
as well as his reply, contemplated the direct encouragement 
of the Irish linen trade as a compensation for the destruction 
of the woollen trade. But though McCuUoch credits the 
English Government with having carried out this promise 
by means of bounties on Irish linens, these were trifling com- 
pared with the prohibitory duties, and we must acknowledge, 
with shame, the selfish jirotectionist spirit in England which 
arrested the natural process whereby Ireland might have 


gradually recovered from the devastation of war. If, how- 
ever, we must be just in our self-condemnation, let us also 
be just in our appreciation of the plain facts about to be con- 
sidered, which show that, after all, Irishmen are mainly to 
blame for their lamentable failure in civilisation, and that 
during the present reign, if not since the Union, the Imperial 
Government and the English people have done their utmost 
to conciliate Irish sentiment, despite the efforts of a rebel- 
lious conspiracy to render it permanently irreconcilable. 

1. Let us, first, deal with the allegation so constantly 
made by Mr. Gladstone and his followers, that ' the Irish 
nation,' or ' Irish nationality,' has been constantly oppressed 
by England for seven centuries. At what period did this 
imaginary Irish nation exist ? When Edward I. invaded 
Scotland, he made war upon a country with strong national 
traditions, which had long been practically united under one 
king of its own ; and when Scotland accepted union with 
England, it had still an independent national Constitution, 
though its sovereign also wore the crown of England. When 
Henry II. was said to have conquered Ireland — which, in 
fact, he never did conquer — he found no king of Ireland, 
and no semblance of an Irish nation, but only a cluster of 
wild tribes, implacably hostile to each other, and living in a 
state of chronic anarchy compared to which the Saxon Hept- 
archy was a harmonious empire. No other nation had ever 
thought of recognising the national existence of Ireland ; it 
had no flag, or army, or fleet of its own ; no embassy from 
Ireland had ever reached a foreign Court, and. Catholic as 
it was, it was unknown at Eome, except as a barbarous pro- 
vince which might be handed over at will by the Pope to an 
English king. To compare the concession of national inde- 
pendence to Ireland with the modified revival of the Hun- 
garian Constitution in 1867, is to confound a process of crea- 
tion with a process of restoration. There is absolutely no 
historical basis for Irish nationality, and, if it were now esta- 
blished, it would be a perfectly new institution of purely 
EngUsh manufacture, as the consolidation of the Irish pro- 


vinces and regions into one realm under a settled government 
has been exclusively the work of Enghsh monarchs and 

2. It is no less material to reahse that for at least three 
centuries and a-half after the so-called Conquest — a period 
covering one half of Anglo-Irish history — the whole of Ireland, 
except a very few counties and seaports, was actually self- 
governed, its dependence on England being merely nominal. 
As Professor Goldwin Smith well says, 'England was con- 
quered all at once, and the pang was over. In the case of 
Ireland, owing to the nature of the country, the unsettled 
habits of the people,' and the distance from the centre of 
Anglo-Norman power, the process was cruelly protracted, and 
lingered on to the time of the Tudors, leaving intense bitterness 
behind it. This was disastrous, but we might as well con- 
cern ourselves practically at the present day about the un- 
toward events of the Glacial Era.' Instead of Ireland being ' 
cruelly oppressed by England under the Plantagenet and 
Lancastrian kings, it was scarcely governed at all, and the 
whole island beyond the English ' Pale ' enjoyed the blessings 
of Home Eule under its native rulers. After the visit of 
John, no English king set foot in Ireland for nearly five 
centuries. The only English armies, worthy of the name, 
that landed in Ireland between the reign of Henry II. and 
the accession of Henry VIII., were those brought over by 
Eichard II.; and the formidable invasion of Edward Bruce 
was finally repulsed at Dundalk by the Anglo-Norman nobles 
and their retainers, without aid from England. The EngUsh 
ParHament never thought of legislating for Ireland ; the so- 
called Irish Parliament legislated for the 'Pale,' or Anglo- 
Irish colony, alone ; while the ' mere Irish ' were equally 
beyond the reach of either. The barbarism into which Ire- 
land inevitably sunk under this early experiment of Home 
Eule may be learned from the pathetic and graphic pages of 
Edmund Spenser. The vices, miseries, and abuses there 
depicted are precisely the same in kind with those which 
still constitute the difficulty of Irish government. But they 


were far worse in degree, and his evidence furnishes the most 
conclusive answer to the prevalent delusion that Irish dis- 
orders are the product of English misrule. 

3. It would be hardly too much to say that the exact 
contrary is the fact. It is true that England grievously 
failed in her mission of civilising Ireland. It is true also 
that, after political and agrarian enmities were aggravated 
by religious antagonism, the people — and especially the 
Catholics — of Ireland were oppressed, not by the Enghsh 
people, who had then httle voice in State affairs, but by the 
English Government. But it is no less true that every civil 
and political liberty which Ireland enjoys it owes to England, 
and to England alone. Neither trial by jury, nor Parlia- 
mentary representation, nor the freedom of the Press, nor 
the Poor Law, nor popular education, nor any dther privilege 
of citizenship now common to Irishmen with Englishmen, is 
an institution of Irish origin. They were all imported from 
England, and there is not one of them which is not grossly 
abused, at this very moment, by Irishmen who seem to con- 
sider an incapacity for the honest exercise of civil rights a 
title and qualification for the duties of national self-govern- 

4. "Were it not for the persistent assertions of Mr. Glad- 
stone, it would be needless to point out, what Lord Brabourne 
has so well illustrated, the fallacy of describing the old Irish 
Parhament as either indigenous or independent. Not only 
was it not indigenous, but it was essentially exotic and 
artificial in its inception, a mere convention of English 
settlers within the Pale, summoned at irregular intervals, 
and justly denounced as a ' colonial ' assembly by patriots of 
Irish race. For two or three generations after the Eeforma- 
tion, Cathohcs were admitted to it; and after the reign of 
James I. it purported, in the roughest sense, to represent all 
Ireland ; but from the year 1692 downwards Catholics were 
excluded from it, in the year 1727 they were deprived of the 
franchise, which they only recovered in 1793, and at no period 
since the Eeformation was it even tolerably representative of 


the Irish people. Not only was it not independent, but its 
dependence was statutably declared in the famous Poyning's 
Act, passed at Drogheda in 1494, whereby the Parliament of 
Ireland was disabled from considering any Bill which had not 
been first approved by the Lord Deputy in Council, and sanc- 
tioned by the King. Moreover, the English Legislature was 
then empowered to make laws binding on Ireland, and this 
power was more emphatically reasserted by a statute of 1719. 
For eighteen years, indeed — from 1782 to 1800 — the Irish 
Parliament, still exclusively composed of Protestants, and 
mainly composed of placemen and nominees, enjoyed a mete- 
oric career of legislative independence. It produced some 
great orators, it is true, and passed more than one remedial 
measure, together with a series of Draconian ' Coercion Acts,' 
but it committed as many blunders as could well have been 
crowded into a similar period. As a patriotic Irish historian 
remarks, ' The independent Parliament was but the tool of 
an Enghsh statesman ; not one quarter of its members were 
chosen by the people . . . reform was hopeless, and independ- 
ence but a name.' 

5. If it is an error to speak of the Irish Parliament as 
either a native or a free Legislature, stUl more flagrant is 
the error of regarding its abolition as a stroke of sinister or 
despotic policy, designed to quench the (mythical) nationality 
of Ireland. Without entangling ourselves with the wearisome 
controversy over the Act of Union, we may clearly distinguish 
several leading and decisive facts. If anything be certain, 
it is that Pitt and Cornwallis were actuated by the desire, 
not to bring Ireland into subjection, but to ensure it against 
French invasion and to protect the Eoman Catholics against 
the bigotry of Protestant Ascendancy. In these objects they 
succeeded, and though we may blame Pitt for not combating 
the opposition of George III. at all hazards, he assuredly 
intended the Union as a step to Catholic Emancipation and 
to a full participation of Ireland in the prosperity of Great 
Britain. This was clearly understood by intelligent Irish 
Catholics, and the opposition to the Union mainly proceeded, 


not from these, but from the very professional classes, 
mostly Protestants, who are now the stoutest opponents of 
Eepeal. No one denies that public money, as well as patron- 
age, was largely and unscrupulously employed to carry the 
Union ; but it has been conclusively shown, by Dr. Ingram 
and others, that by far the greater part of this expenditure 
was appUed in compensation for the loss of valuable interests 
and expectations, not in buying over honest opponents. What 
is still more important, and still more apt to be overlooked, 
is that the Irish Parliament had been kept alive by syste- 
matic jobbery and corruption, nor were the means by which 
it was dissolved in any respect more dishonourable than the 
means by which it was sustained and managed. Had the 
Union been as unpopular as it is now represented to have 
been, it is utterly incredible that it should have been followed 
by a generation of almost unbroken peace ; for Emmett's 
abortive attempt at rebellion was suppressed in a few hours, 
and the political tranquillity of Ireland was not seriously dis- 
turbed until the Catholic Association was formed by O'Connell, 
and its strength was revealed by the famous Clare election. 

6. "When it is said that the Union has proved a failure, 
it is assumed that a native Parliament would have been more 
successful in heahng the wounds and developing the resources 
of Ireland. This assumption, being purely speculative, is 
beyond the sphere of our discussion, but it may be well to 
review briefly some ' plain facts ' which go far to redeem from 
reproach the legislative history of Ireland under the Union. 
And, first, let it be remembered that Catholic Emancipation, 
refused by the Irish Parliament, was actually carried, though 
after too long a delay, by the Imperial Legislature. It was 
followed by a rapid succession of remedial measures, which 
fill a large space in our statute-book. By the National 
system of Education, since greatly modified to suit Irish pre- 
judices, the ultimate source of power, both moral and political, 
was brought within the reach of people. By the Church 
Temporalities Act and Tithe Commutation Act, the worst 
grievances arising from the Church Establishment were 


abated, until the Church itself was disestablished and dis- 
endowed in 1869. By the Poor Law, carried in spite of 
O'Connell, and afterwards amended so as to make half the 
rates payable by landlords, an universal right to indoor relief 
was instituted, which saved the lives of myriads during the 
Great Famine ; while by the Evicted Tenantry Act of 1848 
temporary provision was made for homeless paupers, without 
bringing them into the workhouse. By the Municipal Eeform 
Act, the democratic principle was introduced into the local 
government of Irish towns. By various Acts, some twenty 
millions sterling was advanced for public works in Ireland 
out of the Imperial Exchequer, and nearly one-third of this 
sum was remitted. By the Encumbered Estates Act, millions 
of acres were rescued from the hands of embarrassed and 
broken-down proprietors, to be placed in those of purchasers, 
mostly Irishmen, who, it was hoped, might become resident 
and improving landlords — a hope too seldom fulfilled. These 
and other enactments for the good of Ireland were supple- 
mented by a long series of solid administrative reforms, and 
paved the way for the agi'arian legislation of the last eighteen 
years, hereafter to be noticed. Their joint effect may be 
measured by the undoubted fact that Ireland in 1870 sup- 
ported a population somewhat larger than it contained at 
the Union, in far greater comfort, and in a far higher state 
of civilisation. The Irish labourer of 1870 was far better 
fed, housed, and clothed than his grandfather, and this im- 
provement in his lot was not purchased at the expense of 
other classes. The farmers, in particular, held deposits in 
the banks which seventy years before would have seemed 
fabulous, and paid wages twice as high with much less effort, 
in spite of increased rents. The landlords were not only 
wealthier, but spent a greater portion of their wealth in 
Ireland, the causes of absenteeism having been diminished 
under the Union, though Dublin had ceased to be the seat 
of Government. If manufacturing enterprise had not been 
developed proportionably, it had certainly not been the fault 
of Imperial legislation, nor can it be adequately explained by 


such physical drawbacks as the dearth of coal, for the eastern 
coasts of Ireland are at no disadvantage, in this respect, as 
compared with many thriving parts of England. For a 
century Irish manufactures have competed on equal terms 
with those of England or Scotland, and, if they have been less 
successful, the cause must be mainly sought in that want of 
energy and steady industry which had been observed from 
the earliest times as the great obstacle to improvement in 

7. It is the commonest of errors to speak of Ireland as 
still governed by England. Such was actually the fact during 
the first eighty years of the last century, nor did it absolutely 
cease to be the fact when the Irish Parliament obtained a 
nominal independence. For it is an equally serious, though 
equally common, error to imagine that Ireland was then 
united to Great Britain only by ' the golden link of the 
Crown.' On the contrary, the Executive Government of 
Ireland was practically responsible, not to the Parliament in 
Dublin, but to the Parliament at Westminster, and the Great 
Seal was affixed to Irish Bills on the advice of the British 
Ministry. With the Union, however, this provincial depend- 
ence of Ireland on Great Britain came utterly to an end. 
Thenceforward, Ireland has no more been governed by Eng- 
land than is Scotland, or Lancashire, or London — which now 
contains a population nearly as great as that of Ireland in 
respect of numbers, while in respect of intelligence, wealth, 
and every other qualification for citizenship, its superiority 
is so transcendent as to defy comparison. Ireland, Scotland, 
and England itself, are now equally governed by an united 
Parliament, in which Ireland has rather more than its fair 
share of representation, with the full right, which its repre- 
sentatives exercise most unscrupulously, of pressing its special 
claims on the attention of its partners. As for the Vice- 
Eoyalty, which has sometimes been paraded as an Irish 
grievance, it has really been retained chiefly in deference to 
Irish sentiment, and when the House of Commons passed a 
vote for its abolition by an overwhelming majority, the 


strongest protests against any such measure were received 
from the citizens of DubUn. Its aboHtion was then advo- 
cated by Liberals of the old school, as part and parcel of the 
pohcy of assimilation whereby the Irish Channel was gradu- 
ally to be bridged over, and all badges of difference obliterated. 
That policy has now been abandoned for the counter-policy 
of special legislation for Ireland, and the abolition of the 
Vice-Eoyalty would now destroy, not a standing monument 
of British despotism, but a valuable instrument for mediation 
between Irish and English opinion. Torrents of abuse have 
been poured upon ' the Castle ' by Irish demagogues, and the 
English ' masses ' have been taught to believe that in its 
secret chambers the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, 
and a MachiaveUian Privy Council, are constantly engaged in 
framing plots and forging chains for the enslavement of the 
Irish people. The broad facts are that the Chief Secretary, 
who is really the Lord Lieutenant's Prime Minister, is as 
responsible to Parliament as the Home Secretary, and is 
there exposed to far more searching criticism ; that he pos- 
sesses no power whatever over the administration of justice ; 
and that ' the Castle ' really consists of a few officials, mostly 
both honest and able, far more accessible to Irish influences 
than Under-Secretaries or clerks at the Home Office, and 
traditionally disposed to modify Imperial instructions so as 
to conciliate Irish prejudices. The besetting sin of ' the 
Castle ' is not its tyranny, but its weakness ; its action is 
strictly limited by Common arid Statute law ; and the pre- 
vailing impression that it is somehow in league with the 
Judiciary chiefly arises from the untoward accident that the 
Irish Lord Chancellor and law officers have their official 
chambers in the same building with the heads of civil de- 
partments. Instead of its being the fact that Ireland is 
administered through Englishmen, the fact is that a much 
larger proportion of Irishmen is to be found in the English 
Civil Service than of Englishmen in the Irish Civil Service. 
Every judge on the Irish Bench is of Irish birth ; the official 
staff of every Irish Board consists almost entirely of Irish- 


men; and, if the Under-Secretary has sometimes of late been 
an Englishman or a Scotchman, it is not unworthy of remem- 
brance that the last Under-Secretary of Irish blood — a Roman 
Catholic of the old stock — was murdered in broad daylight 
by hired Irish assassins in the Phoenix Park. 

8. Another prevalent delusion is the notion that Ireland 
is almost destitute of local self-government. The fact is that, 
with one important exception, it possesses a system of local 
self-government essentially the same as that which exists in 
England, but has shown a rare incapacity of working it honestly 
or efficiently. In Ireland, as in England, there are three 
principal areas of local government — the County, the Union, 
and the Municipality. Of these, by far the most important 
in Ireland is the Union, in which the local authority is the 
Board of Guardians, partly consisting of magistrates, sitting 
ex-officio, partly of elective members. Now, the scandals of 
Union administration in Ireland are notorious, wherever, as 
is too often the case, the Irish gentry constituting the 
non-elective element have been overborne or reduced to 
a hopeless minority. It is not only that many Boards of 
Guardians act shamelessly as committees of the National 
League, making a predatory use of their rating powers, 
prostituting their patronage to subsidise Nationalist agents, 
and getting rid of chairmen who object to abuse their 
functions by putting disloyal resolutions : it is also that 
jobbery and waste are carried to extremes unknown in 
English Unions. This was abundantly shown by the Poor 
Relief (Ireland) Enquiry Commission of last year, which in- 
vestigated the expenditure of grants under the Poor Relief 
(Ireland) Act of 1886, and disclosed an almost incredibly 
shameful malversation of public funds. The same holds good, 
to an almost equal degree, of Irish Town Councils, which 
are the chief local authority in corporate towns, and consist 
entirely of elective members, mostly of Nationalist opinions. 
The one local authority in Ireland which is generally admitted 
to do its duty honourably and efficiently is that which is 
least defensible in theory and least representative — the Grand 


Jury, which has a very large control over county finance, and 
is mainly nominated by the High Sheriff. It does not follow 
that, because the experiment of local self-government has 
thus broken down in most parts of Ireland, it is doomed to 
perpetual failure under conditions yet to be devised. But it 
is material to grasp the fact that local self-government is 
already widely developed in Ireland, but that hitherto the 
Irish have shown themselves signally deficient in, those simple 
political virtues upon which free institutions entirely depend 
for their success. 

9. Still more delusive is the oft-repeated fallacy that 
' public opinion ' in Ireland has declared in favour of Home 
Eule. What is true is, that a large majority of Irish votes 
have been cast in favour of Home Eule, as they would have 
been cast in favour of total Separation, or, indeed, of the 
Union, under the dictation of the same Terrorist conspiracy 
which has well-nigh stamped out the very idea of ' public 
opinion ' in three provinces of Ireland. An Irish plehisciU 
under the rule of the National League is worth neither more 
nor less than a julehiscite of Paris under the rule of Eobespierre 
and the Jacobins, whose fall was greeted with tumultuous 
acclamations by the same fickle populace. What passes for 
' public opinion ' in Ireland is mostly fabricated to order by a 
Nationalist Press which has no rival for scurrihty and men- 
dacity in Europe or America, but which circulates, to the 
exclusion of all honest newspaj^ers, among the great mass of 
Irish peasants. Assuming, however, that Irish public opinion 
is genuine, and is to be measured by Nationalist utterances 
for the last twenty years, it has declared, not in favour of 
Home Eule, in any constitutional sense, but of complete 
national independence. The continuity of the Irish revolu- 
tionary movement has been established by the clearest evi- 
dence, and the ' Irish Felon ' of 1848 is shown to have been 
the lineal ancestor of ' United Ireland ' in 1888. When Home 
Eule was originally invented, and most ably formulated by 
Mr. Butt under the name of ' Federalism,' it utterly failed 
to evoke any popular enthusiasm, and ^Yas abandoned for 


the Fenian ideal — the ideal of an Irish RepuLlie, wire-pulled 
from America, and existing by virtue of an undying hostility 
to Great Britain. Mr. Butt's moderation was as fatal to his 
control over the Home Eule movement as O'Connell's refusal 
to defy the law had been fatal to his control over the Young 
Ireland movement. Mr. Parnell, clearly perceiving this, 
associated his scheme of Home Eule with that which Mr. 
Gladstone described as the gospel of public plunder, and, while 
he dropped the avowal of his ulterior aims so far as was neces- 
sary to satisfy his English allies, he encouraged his Irish 
associates to proclaim them on the housetops in America, 
and, on proper occasions, in Ireland. It is historically cer- 
tain that Fenianism was nothing but a revival of the Young 
Ireland rebellion in an American garb, while both the Land 
League and the present Home Eule conspiracy were evolved 
out of Fenian elements ; and the one grain of solid matter 
in the so-called ' public opinion ' of Ireland is a belief in the 
final triumph of the Irish Eevolution — that is, in the erection 
of an Irish-American Eepublic. 

10. The alleged failure of ' coercion ' in Ireland is a 
favourite argument with Irish Nationalists, but a reference 
to plain facts tends rather to show the constant failure of 
conciliation. The concession of Catholic Emancipation was 
closely followed by the commencement of O'Connell's Eepeal 
campaign, and by an accession of agrarian outrages more 
atrocious than any recorded in recent Irish history. The 
chief motive of these outrages was supposed to have been 
removed by the Irish Tithe Commutation Act, accompanied 
by the Poor Law, and followed two years later by the Muni- 
cipal Act. The immediate sequel was the renewal of the 
Eepeal agitation, culminating in the Young Ireland insurrec- 
tion. The prompt suppression of that insurrection, and not 
any fresh act of conciliation, secured tolerable peace in Ire- 
land for some fifteen years, after which Fenianism was openly 
propagated by IriSh-American filibusters, until it was vigor- 
ously put down. The Irish Church Act was passed in 1869 
as a ' healing measure,' and in that year the country became 

T 2 


SO unsettled that it was necessary to reinforce the troops in 
Ireland, and to pass the temporary Peace Preservation Act 
of 1870, in proposing which Mr. Fortescue declared that 
agrarian crime had been more rife in Ireland during the pre- 
ceding fourteen months than at any time since the year 1852. 
To extirpate the alleged cause of this crime, the sweeping 
Land Act of 1870 was passed ; but so little did it fulfil its 
conciliatory purpose that in the very next year Parliament 
not only found it necessary to renew the Peace Preservation 
Act for two years, but passed the far more stringent ' West- 
meath Act,' whereby the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended 
in that county and' certain adjoining districts for the same 
period of two years. Eemedial legislation, however, was con- 
tinued. Mr. Gladstone came into power in 1880 resolved to 
govern Ireland under the ordinary law, and in 1881 the most 
revolutionary, but not the last, of Irish Land Acts was passed. 
The prompt reply to it was the No Eent Manifesto, the 
Phoenix Park murders, and (two or three years later) the 
Plan of Campaign. 

11. Though it is a radical misconception to imagine that 
Irish disaffection springs directly from agrarian causes, or 
could be cured by merely agi-arian remedies, it is true that 
agrarian discontent and agrarian cupidity are the most 
powerful motives to which the Home Eule conspiracy appeals. 
It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to understand the main 
facts of Irish agi-arian history, and the more so because no 
aspect of the Irish Question has been so grossly obscured by 
ignorance and falsehood. It is too often taken for granted, 
as if it were a self-evident j^roposition, that all the agrarian 
troubles of Ireland are due to landlordism — and especially to 
absentee landlordism. The fact is, that Ireland contains vast 
tracts where neither the soil nor the climate is suited for 
any form of agriculture, where even a thrifty and industrious 
population could scarcely exist by tillage, but where from 
time immemorial the population has been neither thrifty nor 
industrious, and was even more restless and turbulent under 
its old tribal chiefs than it is under its modern landlords. It 


is from these very districts — where rents are lowest, and are 
now seldom paid— that a large proportion of outrages are 
reported, and the inordinate space occupied by these districts 
in the English mind is one fertile source of erroneous impres- 
sions. No doubt, absenteeism is an evil, or, rather, it would 
be an evil, if the alternative were a race of resident landlords 
animated by the public spirit and generous traditions of 
English gentlemen. But, again, the fact is that an enormous 
majority of Irish landlords are both native and resident, that 
the estates of absentee English noblemen are mostly con- 
spicuous for their liberal management, and that Irish pur- 
chasers under the Encumbered Estates Court notoriously 
figure among the worst landlords in Ireland. Here, if any- 
where, oppressive rack-renting is to be found ; but the notion 
that Ireland generally is rack-rented, as compared with Great 
Britain, is perhaps the most demonstrably false among the 
many fallacies now current in regard to it. Long before the 
recent concession of legal tenant-right, it was conclusively 
refuted by the enormous deposits of Irish farmers in the 
banks, by the large portions usually forthcoming on the 
marriage of even the humbler farmers' daughters, by the 
handsome compensations constantly awarded to Irish tenants, 
as distinct from their landlords, in respect of their interests, 
under Bills for railways or other public improvements, but, 
above all, by the extravagant sums habitually given for the 
good-will of tenancies. Not even an Irishman will deliberately 
pay a fancy price for the privilege of being cruelly rack- 
rented ; yet successive Commissions found that, not only in 
Ulster, but in other provinces, the practice of buying farms 
from outgoing tenants was far commoner than had been sup- 
posed. Keturns lately obtained from official and private 
sources clearly show that such purchasers were willing, on 
the average, to give some ten years' purchase on the old 
rents for the tenant-right, and, exorbitant as this may seem, 
they often succeeded in sub-letting at a rent which justified 
this outlay. Indeed, we have the express testimony of the 
Bessborough Commission, fully adopted by Mr. Gladstone, 


that in Ireland ' it was unusual for landlords to exact what 
in England would have been considered a full or fair com- 
mercial rent.' The reason, of course, was that most, though 
by no means all, ' improvements ' were executed in Ireland 
by the tenant, who thus acquired a valuable interest in the 
property by custom long before it was secured to him by 

12. It would be interesting to know how many of those 
who declaim on the wrongs of Irish tenants have ever studied 
either the Irish Land Act of 1870 or that of 1881. At all 
events, a brief summary of their provisions, as affecting Irish 
tenancies, is assuredly not superfluous. The first of these 
Acts was founded, in its conception, on a sound basis. Its 
framers recognised the fact that a typical Irish tenant-farmer 
was not the creature of contract at all, but the survival of an 
ancient and genuine, though disinherited, peasantry. Their 
object, therefore, was to give him a legal security of tenure, 
and compensation for improvements, which thenceforth were 
presumed in law to have been made by him or his prede- 
cessors. On the other hand, they recognised the absurdity 
and the injustice of extending the Ulster Custom, on the faith 
of which existing tenants had paid large sums of money, to 
cases in which existing tenants had taken farms without 
paying a penny. They deliberately rejected- both perpetuity 
and fixity of tenure, for Mr. Gladstone ejaborately pointed 
out that, by conceding either, the landlord would have been 
converted into a mere pensioner or owner of a ground-rent, 
without the duties or obligations of proprietorship, and that 
a social revolution would be the inevitable result. At the 
same time, the Act gave tenants what must be called a bene- 
ficial right of occupation, by imposing on the landlord a 
penalty for ' disturbance,' varying inversely with the value 
of the holding, in addition to all tenants' claims for improve- 
ments. These were now legalised for the first time in the 
history of English law, and several years before English 
tenants were admitted to like jn-ivileges. The right to com- 
pensation for improvements was made indefeasible as to all 


holdings below 50Z. a year, including an immense majority 
of Irish tenancies, and held good whether the tenant was 
turned out or quitted the farm of his own accord. It held 
good even if he was ejected for non-payment of rent or for 
the breach of a condition against sub-letting. Not only so, 
but, although non-payment of rent, and certain breaches of 
covenant, were made a conclusive bar to claims for ' disturb- 
ance,' a significant exception was introduced in favour of 
tenancies valued at 151. or under (probably three-fourths of 
the whole) , in case the Court should deem the rent ' exor- 
bitant.' In other words, the pregnant idea of fixing rents by 
a Government valuation was imported into the Irish Land 
Act of 1870. Nor was this all. Under the Equities Clause, 
the Court was invested with the largest possible discretion 
to review the ' conduct ' of both parties, and was specially 
empowered to give compensation, even where no claim was 
made for improvements or disturbance, if the tenant or his 
predecessors in title had given money or money's worth for 
the farm with the landlord's consent. 

13. Such was the Act afterwards described, especially by 
those who had never looked into it, as lamentably deficient 
in Uberality towards Irish tenants. It might be alleged, with 
far greater reason, that it placed the Irish tenant in a posi- 
tion inconsistent with the fundamental idea of tenancy — a 
position far more favourable than that enjoyed by the British 
tenant, by tenants holding under the Code Napoleon on the 
Continent of Europe, or by tenants in the United States of 
America. All may now see, what some discerned in 1870, 
that it contained in itself the seeds of inevitable miscarriage. 
Instead of simply awarding a full retrospective compensation 
for past claims of tenant-right, and making a new departure 
for the future on the footing of contract, it perpetuated the 
loose and indefinite system of tenure by custom, and no gift of 
prophecy was needed to foresee that it would be followed by com- 
munistic demands for a more wholesale transfer of proprietary 
rights from Irish landlords to Irish tenants. Moreover, while 
it utterly destroyed all sentiments of family allegiance among 


Irish tenants, it absolved Irish landlords from all claims upon 
their sympathy and generositj'. A few bad seasons increased 
the difficulty of collecting rents ; it was discovered that Irish 
tenants had not only a legal right to compensation for im- 
provements and disturbances on eviction, but a moral right 
to fixity of tenure at a ' fan- rent,' with perfect freedom of 
sale ; a new agitation for the ' Three F's,' as they were called, 
was set on foot, and promoted by murderous outrage ; the 
Government yielded, and the famous agrarian charter of the 
Three F's was embodied in the Irish Land Act of 1881. 

14. The cumbrous and complicated provisions of this Act 
defy abridgment, but its general effect may be stated in a 
few words. It established a perpetual duality of tenure be- 
tween landlord and tenant, by giving tenants a statutory and 
saleable lease of fifteen years, renewable every fifteen years 
until the end of time, at a rent to be fixed judicially. It was 
a favourite saying amongst its admirers, mostly ignorant of 
its contents, that it did no more than had been done long 
ago by the legislation of Stein and Hardenberg in Prussia. 
Almost the exact reverse was the fact. The legislation of 
Stein and Hardenberg extinguished double ownership by 
partitioning the heavily-burdened lands of tenants between 
them and their landlords, each of whom thenceforth owned 
his share in fee. The Irish Land Act, on the contrary, 
extinguished single ownership. It retained the fiction of 
tenancy with all its irritating incidents, stereotyping the pos- 
session of existing tenants, regulating their rent through Courts, 
and enabling them to pocket the difference between the 
judicial rent and the marketable rent-value of their holdings 
by selling them to strangers. Nor does the tenant forfeit his 
right of free sale by a breach of covenant, or any act that 
might justify eviction. The one-sided policy of this statute 
is conspicuous throughout. For instance, no tenant can 
have his rent increased by reason of any improvements made 
by himself or his predecessors (unless he shall have already 
received their value), but he may, and often does, have his 
rent lowered by reason of deterioration in the farm due to his 


own neglect or wastefulness. So, again, the statutory lease of 
fifteen years operates exclusively in favour of the tenant, and 
not of the landlord ; for, while other lessees are bound to 
carry out all their agreements during the currency of the 
lease, the Irish holder of a statutory term can surrender it, 
though he cannot be evicted. Meanwhile, tenants may im- 
prove their holdings for their own benefit, without the land- 
lord's consent, with a legislative guarantee against the rent 
being raised on that account, but no landlord can obtain an 
increase of rent upon capital laid out by himself in improve- 
ment, except by special agreement with his tenant. In a 
word, the whole Act is framed in a protective spirit, alien to 
that of equal justice, for the purpose of enriching existing 
tenants at the expense, not only of their landlords, but of 
all future tenants. Since it passed, every farm which changes 
hands in Ireland must practically be rack-rented. The lower 
the rent, the higher the price of the tenant-right ; and no 
' future tenant,' squeezed between these upper and nether 
millstones, can possibly hope to farm at a profit. Of course, 
this avowed concession to criminal agitation directly stimu- 
lated the renewal of such agitation, and though judicial rents 
fixed under the Act were far below the market value of farms, 
a rapid fall in agricultural prices revealed the fundamental 
unsoundness of its principle, and favoured a passionate 
demand for a fresh intervention of the State. To enforce this 
demand, or, rather, to anticipate State action by a system 
of criminal intimidation, the Plan of Campaign was devised, 
and was soon followed by the Land Act of 1887. Under this 
Act nearly 150,000 leaseholders, whom Mr. Gladstone had 
declined to place on the same footing as yearly tenants, 
obtained the privilege of having their rents judicially regu- 
lated — a privilege from which the landlord was deliberately 
excluded. At the same time, it empowered the Courts to lower 
rents already fixed, in accordance with the fall in prices, and 
to stay evictions where the defaulting tenant is the victim 
of misfortune, and not of his own fault. , Nor is this all. 
Under Lord Ashbourne's Act, passed in 1885, Irish tenants 


had already been enabled to purchase their farms by agree- 
ment with their landlords, borrowing the whole purchase- 
money from the State, and paying thenceforth a lower rent 
than before (covering both principal and interest), with the 
prospect of absolute ownership at the end of forty-nine years. 
It is needless to say that no more effect was produced by 
these Acts than by their predecessors in relieving Ireland 
from its ancient curse of agrarian conspiracy. The security 
promised to Irish landlords as an equivalent for the spolia- 
tion has proved worse than delusive, and each sacrifice of 
their rights has but .whetted the appetite of those who openly 
deny their claim to anything above the 'prairie value' of 
their land. 

15. It is now time for us to recapitulate briefly the 'Plain 
Facts about Ireland ' which have come under our review — 
facts which lie on the very threshold of the Irish Question, 
but which are apparently unknown to, or ignored by, too many 
of those who profess to expound it. We have seen, in the 
first place, that Irish nationality is a past that was never 
present ; that whatever sense of national unity Ireland now 
possesses, and all its free institutions, it owes to English rule ; 
that it never had a national Parliament worthy of the name 
till it was admitted to partnership in the Imperial Parliament ; 
that its wise surrender of a nominal legislative independence 
was not the nefarious intrigue conjured up by Mr. Gladstone, 
and was justified by the results ; that Ireland has made great 
progress in everything but loyalty under the Union, and is 
now as truly self-governed as any part of Great Britain ; that 
the Vice-royalty and the ' Castle system ' are no monuments 
or instruments of oppression, but rather intermediate links 
between the Central Executive and the Irish people ; that 
Ireland actually enjoys and constantly abuses local franchises 
and institutions nearly the same as those of Great Britain ; 
that ' public opinion,' in the English sense, does not exist in 
Ireland ; and that, if intermittent ' coercion ' has failed, the 
failure of conciliation has been still more signal and signifi- 
cant. We have, then, rapidly surveyed the essential con- 


ditions of agrarian disorder in Ireland, and the chief measures 
whereby it has been sought to remedy it, at the sacrifice of 
every principle except that of expediency. We have seen 
that no Irish tenant can now be rack-rented by his landlord, 
though he may be ground down by the payment of an ex- 
tortionate tenant-right to his predecessor ; that his judicial 
rent may be lowered by a Court as prices go down, but can- 
not be raised as prices go up ; that, however much his rent 
may be in arrear, he can obtain full compensation for im- 
provements on quitting his farm, or sell it to the highest 
bidder ; and that, if he wishes to buy it out-and-out from his 
landlord, he is enabled to do so by the use of public credit, on 
such terms that his yearly charge will be less than his old 
rent ; in short, that he enjoys the protection of a one-sided 
agrarian code framed expressly for his benefit, and securing 
to him privileges unknown to his fellows in the rest of the 
United Kingdom, on the Continent of Europe, in the Colonies, 
or in the United States of America. 

16. These facts constitute but a part, though a most im- 
portant part, of the lesson to be studied by all who aspire to 
form a comprehensive and trustworthy judgment on the Irish 
Question, as a whole. To complete that lesson, as we have 
seen, they must be grouped together with facts of a different 
order, but they must also be reuiforced by other facts of the 
same order, strongly confirming the inference to be drawn 
from them. In the meantime, they are amply sufficient to 
demolish the whole fabric of fiction by which a Separatist 
policy is commonly supported, and to justify the belief that, if 
Ireland is ever to be regenerated, it must be regenerated, not 
through Secession and isolation, but through organic ' union 
with that sister-nation to which Providence has linked her by 
an immutable decree.' 




A Eeview of Grote's ' History of Greece,' vol, xii, (May 1856) 

Mr. Gbote has been unable to redeem the promise made ui the 
preface to his eleventh volume. Plato and Aristotle are 
reserved for a separate treatise, ' devoted especially to an 
account of Greek speculative philosophy in the fourth century 
B.C.' The twelfth volume is, therefore, the last of this gi-eat 
work ; nor are we disposed to complain that the events from 
the death of Philip to ' the close of the generation contem- 
porary with Alexander ' have not been compressed into a 
smaller compass. 

The historian has exercised a wise discretion in allowing 
the curtain to fall at this epoch. Even at the commencement 
of Alexander's reign, ' the Hellenic world has ceased to be 
autonomous ' ; after a few years of conquest, ' instead of 
Hellenizing Asia, he was tending to Asiatize Macedonia and 
Hellas ' ; after the battle of Issus, it may truly be said that 
' Greece, as a separate subject of history, no longer exists.' 
The Government and forces of the ' Diadochi ' were hardly 
more Hellenic than the army of General Williams was Eng- 
lish, unless military organisation and official language be the 
essence of nationality. Nor did the Achaean League satisfy 
* the ancient Grecian sentiment of an autonomous Hellenic 
world as the indispensable condition of a dignified and desir- 
able existence.' It does but bridge over the chasm between 
two periods of degradation — the period when Athens trembled 
before the generals of Alexander, and the period when we no 
longer hear of Greeks north and south of Thermopylfe, but of 
' Macedonia ' and ' Achaia.' Demosthenes did not add Arbela 
to the list of Pan-Hellenic victories in his memorable oath, 


nor is the portrait of Aratus placed on a level with the ancient 
worthies of Greece in the historical gallery of Plutarch. 

We are not surprised to find that Mr. Grote, whose leanings, 
when he does not ' Atticize,' are decidedly Pan-Hellenic, should 
describe with little reUsh the course of ' that non-Hellenic 
conqueror into whose vast possessions the Greeks are absorbed, 
with their intellectual brightness dimmed, their spirit broken, 
and half then- virtues taken away by Zeus.' Not that any of 
Mr. Grote's great merits are absent from this volume; his 
amazing familiarity with Greek politics finds ample scope 
in the party contests, not now between the many and the 
few, but between Philo-Macedonians and Anti-Macedonians, 
in every independent town of Greece ; his sound judgment 
unravels the intricacies of Alexander's campaigns and esti- 
mates the results of his conquests ; his patient research 
digests Arrian, Diodorus, and Curtius, as it formerly digested 
Herodotus, Thucydides, and Demosthenes. But it is useless to 
conceal that it is no longer a labour of love. Mr. Grote 
travels over the last days of Greece like Xerxes's soldiers 
' under the lash ' ; he writes with the air of a man who has a 
sad duty to perform. Yet there is a certain rueful satisfaction 
(such as Bias might have felt after the reduction of Ionia) in 
his description of the evils which befel those little States 
which would not follow the course which he, who loved them 
better than one of their own citizens, prescribed. The mild- 
ness and incorruptibility of Phokion fare no better than 
the respectability and religion of Nikias, for ' in Phokion's 
patriotism ' ' no account was taken of Athenian independence — 
of the autonomy or self-management of the Hellenic world.' 
And so Grecian liberty perished. He stands over the wasted 
frame declaring that, if his advice had been followed, it would 
never have happened. But he has not the heart to attend 
the obsequies, and we sympathise with his feeling. 

But while we do not yield to Mr. Grote in admiration of 
the Greek republics in general, and Athens in particular, as 
the birthplaces of a noble type of character, and the conserva- 
tors of a freedom, disorderly indeed, but sublime in its idea. 


which they ilhistrated with an unrivalled literature, we can- 
not but see their incapacity to exercise direct influence on the 
destinies of mankind. Perfect as working-models (so to speak) 
of city government, they were fitted, like some individuals, to 
instruct rather than to lead the human race. Great instru- 
ments must be employed to effect great ends, and, to say 
nothing of the enormous evils which attend such constitu- 
tions, cities cannot beneficially administer imperial functions, 
excei^t in that kind of combination which Greece repeatedly 
and signally failed to realise. It is this fact — the intrinsic 
smallness of Athens, Sparta and Thebes — of Greek States, 
in short, which, by Plato's confession, would cease to be 
States if they should contain above 100,000 citizens — that 
must qualify our grief at their successive subjugation by the 
power of Macedonia and Eome, and explain the contempt of 
Alexander when he characterised the campaign of Agis as a 
battle of frogs and mice. Mr. Grote's sole idea of Alexander's 
influence on Greece is ' compression ' — ' free development ' 
being the life of republican institutions ; but we can imagine 
a point of view in which ' expansion ' would seem the more 
appropriate term for the change wrought by Alexander on the 
narrowness of Hellenic policy. 

A similar bias leads Mr. Grote to attribute to peculiar 
circumstances, and to the perversities of individuals or par- 
ticular States, what was, in fact, the operation of a general 
law — the ascendancy of Macedonia under Philip and Alex- 
ander. It was not merely that ' Greek citizens were not like 
trained Macedonian soldiers ' (just as the feudal contingents 
could not stand against paid standing-armies), nor that Alex- 
ander and his father had engrossed to themselves the inex- 
haustible energy once the characteristic of the Athenians ; the 
sufficient cause was that of which modern Europe supplies 
illustrations to superfluity — the want of cohesion in the Hel- 
lenic body, rendering it unable to resist either the arms or 
the bribes of its stronger neighbour. Like the Scotch clans 
of a century and a-half since, described by Mr. Macaulay, 
these self-governed townships could not be united except 



under the command of a foreigner; even common hatred 
proved too feeble a bond. 

One year made Alexander absolute master of Greece. The 
prevailing feeling at his accession is registered in Mr. Grote's 
pithy table of contents as ' Discontent in Greece, but no Posi- 
tive Movement.' The autumn of the year b.c. 336 witnessed 
the Convention of Corinth, which 'recognized Hellas as a 
confederacy under the Macedonian Prince as imperator, 
president, or executive head and arm.' During the winter, 
the spirit of the treaty was constantly infringed by the 
intervention of Macedonian officers in the affairs of the con- 
tracting States, and certain aggressions at sea, which led to 
communications between Athens, at least, and Persia. It is 
rather humiliating to hear that, ' even down to the eve of the 
battle of Issus, Demosthenes and others were encouraged by 
their correspondents in Asia to anticipate success for Darius, 
even in pitched battle.' We have no intention of justifying 
offensive war, however ultimately conducive to civilisation or 
supported by the pretext of ancient wrongs. Nor do we deny 
that Athens might legitimately, however contrary to prudence, 
invoke the aid of Persia ' against the dominion of another 
foreigner, at once nearer and more formidable.' But we 
cannot admit her right to tamper with Persian gold while 
she knelt in homage before Alexander, and after he had twice 
been recognised in a Pan-Hellenic Synod as the Generalissimo 
of Greece. 

It was not the weakness, but the baseness of his subject- 
allies, that made Alexander treat them, not now only, but 
in the rescript concerning exiles but a year before his death, 
with less respect than he had shown to the churlish Diogenes. 
Mr. Grote evidently approves of the plot hatched at Thebes 
during Alexander's expeditions against the Thracian Triballi 
and Illyrians. But when he whom they fondly believed to be 
dead swooped upon that city the patriotism of which paid 
the penalty which its treason had often deserved, he found 
nothing but obsequious and cringing instruments. If the fall 
of Thebes and the cruel revenge of the conqueror remind us 


of Frederick Barbarossa at Milan, there were not wanting 
rival cities to act the i^art of Pavia and Cremona by insulting 
her ruins. Sparta alone is exempt from the shame of this 
deplorable duplicity and vacillation. She had no cause to 
blush when the 300 panoplies taken at the Granicus were 
presented to Athens from ' Alexander, son of Philip, and the 
Greeks, except the Laceihemonians.' And as Philip acted justly 
when he spared Athens, but punished Thebes after Chseronea, 
no one can fairly complain because Alexander treated his 
Persian prisoners more leniently than the subjects of those 
States which had solemnly sanctioned his expedition. 

To that expedition we hasten, the more readily because 
Mr. Grote does not seem to us to have fully appreciated the 
prodigious space which it fills in history. Thrice only in 
historical times has any permanent conquest been made by 
Europe in Western Asia, and the tide of invasion that sets so 
steadily from east to west been reversed. The first conquest 
was due to the individual genius of Alexander, as the second to 
the national genius of the Eoman people ; to ' devour the whole 
earth' was the one aim and destiny of either, and both left more 
durable monuments of their dominion than the Crusaders who 
followed in their footsteps above a thousand years later. We 
have not Mr. Grote's scruples in considering the exploits of 
Alexander as an essential part of Hellenic history. They were 
achieved by a prince of Hellenic descent and Hellenic character, 
the acknowledged general of an Hellenic congress, and to gratify 
Hellenic antipathies. It was the Greek language and civilisa- 
tion that were spread by them ; and few can doubt that, while 
free institutions are the imperishable legacy of Greece to 
posterity, her actual influence on contemporary history was 
never so great as under Alexander and his successors. The 
inner life, and with it the self-consciousness of Greece, is 
indeed all but extinct — all is darkness there from the death 
of Demosthenes ; but to the surrounding nations the prodi- 
gious physical energy now concentrated and thrown outward 
upon Asia must have appeared more dazzling and command- 
ing than the moral grandeur of the age of Pericles. The 



philosopher does not proportion his interest to the magni- 
tude of phenomena, but it is the towering cliff and the earth- 
quake-shock that arrest the attention of common observers. 

Those whose political experience is so extended as our 
own, who have witnessed the rise and fall of empires won by 
the highest military talents and consolidated with profound 
sagacity, can ill-imagine the awe with which a Greek regarded 
the Persian Monarchy. The terror which the ' Great Turk ' 
inspired in the half- fledged Powers of mediaeval Europe, the 
tremendous prestige of the ' Grand Monarque' at the end of 
the seventeenth century, the abject reverence of the native 
Hindoo for the East India Company, inadequately represent 
the overwhelming impression produced by the ' Great King.' 
As the Ionian gazed on that road which led from the prostrate 
metropolis of the Lydian princes to the royal city of their 
conquerors, more distant from him than the Pillars of Hercules 
from Western Peloponnesus— as he thought of the mountain- 
chains and rivers which it traversed, too vast to be contained 
in Greece, yet serving only as divisions between Persian 
satrapies — as he calciilated the treasures of a monarch whose 
pillow was more valuable than the whole revenue of a Greek 
republic, and one of whose capitals (Persepolis) was found by 
Alexander to contain nearly 28,000,000L sterling — he might 
well feel that, however such a power might fail in its more 
remote schemes, the seat of empire was inexpugnable. As in 
Jewish history Egypt and Assyria assume gigantic proportions, 
whether in their friendship or enmity, so in the family 
squabbles (such they must have seemed to a Persian satrap) 
of the Greek Confederation, the dark and colossal form of 
Persia looms in the background, filling the whole Eastern 
horizon and the greater part of the known world, no longer 
dreaded as an aggressor, but all-powerful as an ally or patron. 
The conversations of Xerxes with Demaratus, of Darius 
Codomanus with Charidemus, irresistibly recall to our recol- 
lection those of the King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver. The 
punishment of the great king is placed by Plato, somewhat as 
the fall of the Assyrian oppressor is by Isaiah, as the consumma- 


tiou of Omnipotent justice ; and Machines introduces, as the 
crowning wonder of his age, too great for posterity to believe, 
the astounding disasters of the successor of Xerxes. 

Such impressions have not been falsified by the results of 
modern research. The enipire of Cyrus, similar in its rise 
to all Oriental kmgdoms — to that of Saladin, Genghis Khan, 
and Timur — grew with the rapid growth and wild luxuriance 
of a nomad government, and absorbed into itself all other 
Asiatic nationalities. Although, as Heeren has shown, it 
never progressed beyond supreme nomadic magnificence, with 
its periodical migrations from Ekbatana to Susa, and from 
Susa to Babylon, its provincial parks and ' paradises,' its 
tribute levied in kind from the various satrapies, the Persian 
Monarchy displayed much of the intelligence of a modern 
despotism. All the despotic vices, it is true, flourished there 
— the inaccessibility of the ruler, a cumbrous official system, 
the petty intrigues of the seraglio, the jealousies and frightful 
vindictiveness of rival favourites, the absence of any contrjl 
on the Administration save the precarious influence of the 
priest-caste. Nevertheless, what Philii) de Comines mentions 
as the peculiar happiness of England was in some degree the 
fortune of this lawless and heterogeneous empire ; the conse- 
quences of political crimes fell principally on their authors, 
while the mass of the people enjoyed tranquillity. A rigorous 
administration of justice, enforced by penalties of such cruelty 
as ' desjjotism alone can devise or execute,' the separation of 
civil and military power in the provinces, the vigorous encour- 
agement of agriculture by law as well as by the religion of 
Zoroaster, had produced a state of material prosperity which 
was incompatible with the incessant political agitation of 
small communities. We imitate Xenophon and other Greek 
authors in directing our attention too exclusively to the 
' upper crust' of Persian society, to the Pasargadse, neglecting 
the other tribes — to the military rather than to the financial 
or physical resources — to the relations of Persia with Greece, 
without regard to her dealings with her own subjects or with 
other nations. 


It was against this stupendous Power, the scale and 
organisation of which present more analogies with the great 
European monarchies than with Athens at her proudest 
moment, that Alexander now advanced, after a solemn sacrifice 
(like that of Hannibal at Gades) to the hero Protesilaus at 
Elaeus. It was eighty years since an armament scnrcely inferior 
to his had set sail westward, amid the prayers and cheers of 
the Athenian people, to conquer an island which might have 
been assigned as a fief of office (such donations were ordinary 
in Persia) to a dignitary of Darius's household. With a force 
of about 35,000, in which the highest posts were held by 
native Macedonians, and with a scanty military chest, he 
invaded an empire the wealth of which was inexhaustible, and 
which numbered in its army, collected from all parts, but 
officered chiefly by the conquering Persian race, more Greeks 
than Alexander could muster. Mr. Grote reminds us that 
the strength and discipline of the Macedonian army, as well 
as what he calls the ' War-office arrangements,' were due 
to Philip. So Gibbon disparages Charlemagne because he 
succeeded to the military system created by a line of heroes. 
But Mr. Grote himself would admit that the general who 
' surpassed his age in provident and even long-sighted com- 
binations,' and who handled kingdoms with the ease of 
Napoleon, would certainly have formed such an army had not 
his father already done so. 

Military history, to be understood, must be studied in 
detail. Mr. Grote follows the earlier campaigns of Alexander 
in his own clear and business-like manner, gives fresh interest 
to the well-known names of Granicus, Issus, and Arbela, and 
develops the less obvious but no less masterly operations by 
which Alexander reduced every Power capable of annoying his 
rear. It is quite refreshing to strengthen our faith in general- 
ship, shaken by the events of the last three years, with the 
account of battles in which valour was always supported by 
skill ; sieges in which the best mechanical resources of that 
age were employed, not only with rare perseverance, but with 
unfailing success ; marches in which the greatest natural 


difficulties were overcome with very small loss. Sometimes 
the Homeric hero, sometimes the scientific strategist, pre- 
dominates ; but caution or boldness is equally fortunate, 
because exactly adapted to the emergency. The proverbial 
good fortune of Alexander is no more than the fortuna PopuU 
Romani, or the constant good luck of Pompey, which Cicero 
alleges as a substantive reason for appointing him to an 
important command. The sieges of Halicarnassus, Tyre, and 
Gaza, were works of immense labour, and the last two would 
infallibly have miscarried in hands less able and energetic. 
The battles of Granicus and Issus were carried by a dashing 
charge, though not till after careful reconnoitring ; but the 
dispositions before the battle of Arbela are those of a con- 
summate general. The Cilician and Syrian gates were left, it 
is true, almost undefended, and the posts at the Uxian and 
Susian passes were surprised by a neglected mountain-track, 
like the band of Leonidas at Thermopylae ; but the rock of 
Chorienes, which Mr. Grote says ' he was also fortunate 
enough to reduce,' was not taken without a combination of 
measures which. Bishop Thirlwall justly observes, 'would have 
appeared to a common eye utterly impracticable.' 

Mr. Grote does not willingly or consciously extenuate the 
greatness of Alexander. He sees it, but he does not feel it. 
He describes effectively his victories and their consequences, 
he examines original authorities with a fidelity which, so far 
as we have been able to test it, is unimpeachable. But he 
does not altogether rise to his subject. His narrative is 
adequate, but not stirring. We miss, in short, the heartfelt 
interest which shed lustre on the last great sea-fight of the 
Athenians in the harbour of Syracuse. We would readily 
sacrifice the impartiality which we have gained for the enthu- 
siasm which we have lost. ' Hellenism, properly so called — 
the aggregate of habits, sentiments, energies, and intelligence 
manifested by the Greeks during their epoch of autonomy ' — 
is ' stagnant and suspended.' True. It has done its work in 
the world, and is soon to be superseded by other and ruder 
agencies. But there is a sublimity in grandeur of effects, as 


well as in nobility of sentiments ; and, in this point of view, 
all Hellenic contests, and even the exploits of Agesilaus and the 
Ten Thousand, are mere forays or trials of strength compared 
with the death-struggle which, as Alexander told Sisygambis, 
was to decide ' the mastery of Asia.' 

The surrender of Babylon and Susa, with the demolition 
of Persepohs in the beginning of B.C. bSO, forms the natural 
division in Alexander's career between the conquest of the 
western and that of the eastern provinces of Persia. The 
latter is described with less minuteness by Mr. Grote than by 
Dr. Thirlwall. According to him, projects which occupied 
this ' insatiate aggressor ' on the banks of the Jaxartes, the 
Indus, and the Hyphasis, can hardly be regarded by the 
historian of Greece as included within the range of his sub- 
ject, and in this judgment we acquiesce. Suffice it to say 
that the last seven years of Alexander's life display the same 
untiring activity and rapidity of thought and action which 
place him, with Bonaparte and Timur, among the foremost of 
human conquerors. He pursues Darius till this true type of 
an Oriental sultan, who owed his crown to the eunuch Bagoas, 
was murdered by Bessus, follows up Bessus as he had followed 
Darius, and Spitamenes as he had Bessus. He assaults the 
hill-forts of Bactria and Afghanistan, and the mountaineers 
of Mardia and Parfetacene, from a pure intolerance of adver- 
saries or obstacles. He sacrifices the loveliest districts of 
Sogdiana to an impulse of passion, and restores the rich 
territories of Taxilus and Porus from an impulse of generosity. 
The red line on Mr. Grote's map that begins at Pella ends, 
where the greatest Asiatic empires have begun, on the banks 
of the Jaxartes in one direction, while in another it traverses 
the Punjab, and is only cut short on the Sutlej because the 
Macedonian soldiers could not keep pace with the restless 
ambition of their general. Yet they had more than once 
reposed while he, with a picked corps of ' Companions,' was 
scouring the surrounding districts. One Alexandria had been 
founded on the westernmost mouth of the Nile, another com- 
manded the approach to the Pass of Bamian, between Cabul 


and Balkh, over which Alexander had passed by a route longer 
and possibly more hazardous than that of Hannibal over the 
\\ estern Alps. The descent of the Indus, and the frightful 
march through the Gedrosiaa Desert, complete the campaigns 
hut not the toils of Alexander. He had already revisited all 
his three capitals, punished with pitiless severity offending 
satraps, reorganised his army and crushed an alarming 
mutiny, superintended in person great commercial designs on 
the Tigris and Euphrates, and conceived schemes so vast as 
to be abandoned in despair by his successors, when death — 
a death which ' affected either the actual condition or the 
pi'obable future ' of every existing nation — overtook him at 
Babylon. In his dying bequest of the kingdom ' To the ablest ' 
we read the history of an heroic life. 

Never had thought so wedded fact as in the splendid 
career of Alexander, and never were human aspirations so 
signally dashed as by his death. The Asiatic hosts had 
recoiled before him like the ghosts in Hades before the flashing 
arms of Mnea,s, who broke in upon their rest. But it was in 
(ireece that both his victories and his death must have pro- 
duced the greatest impression. He had carried his arms into 
all those countries that had dazzled the Greek imagination — 
Persia, the type of earthly magnificence ; Egypt and India, 
the mythical sources of religion and philosophy. If we con- 
ceive the effect of his successive despatches, couched in the 
style of Napoleon's bulletins, recording exploits such as a 
heathen could only attribute to a god on earth, but followed 
by the intelligence that Alexander had sickened and died hke 
other men, we can understand the mixture of consternation 
and incredulity with which this news was received. 

Mr. Grote boldly treats the assumption of Divine parentage 
as a conviction entertained in sober earnest by Alexander 
himself and his admirers. Christianity has radically changed 
the ideal of superhuman greatness. It was not their freedom 
from, but their participation in, mortal passions that elevated 
the Olympian gods above the brute forces of primsEval 
tlieogony. Power, guided by an inexorable will — not goodness, 


but the absence of all weakness — seemed to Greeks the 
character 'likest God's.' The army, which was so indifferent 
to justice as to acquiesce in the assassination of Parmenio 
uneondemned, and to vote that the death of Kleitus was 
deserved, hardly felt the want of the ' quality of mercy ' in 
the object of their adoration. Even Dr. Thirlwall calls the 
murder of Amyntas and others on his accession ' acts of 
justice.' Philotas and the other Macedonian victims of his 
terrible ferocity were unpopular with the troops ; the barbarous 
treatment of Bessus and the brave Syrians was agreeable to 
the regular practice of a Eoman triumph, and not much 
worse than the punishment i^repared by the most chivalrous 
Prince in Christendom for the defenders of Calais. Divme 
honours became in the last days of Eome the expression of a 
political civility. In Alexander's soldiers there was a stronger 
motive than this : a consciousness that the formidable being 
whose wrath was death, whether to friends or enemies, was 
indispensable to their existence. 

The idea, no doubt, was of gradual growth. Repeatedly 
wounded, and sharing the hardships which destroyed a great 
part of his army south of the Oxus and in Beloochistan, he 
seemed to possess a charmed life. After his hairbreadth 
adventure among the MaUi, he was hailed by the Phalanx with 
superstitious devotion, as the one general to whom they could 
implicitly trust their lives ; the wiser must have seen that his 
was the one mind that could sustain the magnificent fabric 
created by his genius. No mortal, none even of the gods, was 
related to have performed such prodigies. He had surmounted 
snowy ridges attempted in vain by Hercules ; he had pene- 
trated beyond the fabulous Hydaspes into regions unconquered 
by Dionysus ; he had been expressly recognised as the son 
of Zeus by the oracle of Ammon. The grand old idea of a 
Divine Nemesis against the greatest of the sons of men who 
' give not God the gloi'y ' was well-nigh extinct ; it was now 
only philosophers like Kallisthenes who could discern ' that 
the distinction between gods and men was one which could 
not be confounded without impiety and wrong.' Desperate 


and Titanic enterprises demand a faith beyond mere animal 
courage, and the spirit of the ' God-fearing ' soldiers of Crom- 
well is travestied in various ways by the pure fatalism of the 
Mussulman, the half-fatalist, half-personal confidence inspired 
by Napoleon, or the purely personal apotheosis of Alexander. 

It is a Christian, and not a heathen idea ; it is the task of 
posterity, and not of contemporaries ; to bring the hero to the 
bar of conscience, and to disallow the most illustrious achieve- 
ments where they are not directed to an end morally justifi- 
able. The benefit of mankind, scrujiles, right motives — these 
are terms of Christian ethics, with little influence on the 
practice even of Christian conquerors. Egotism — the intense 
and all-absorbing desire to fulfil the promptings of a dominant 
will — has been the principle of most of those designs that 
have convulsed the world for good or evil. In Alexander, 
extreme violence of character with ' exorbitant self-estimation ' 
had ripened into an unique and solitary ambition, to which 
his matchless conquests did but add fuel, and which no flattery 
could satisfy. To crush Persia — to be master of the world — 
became to him no longer motives, but the law and condition 
of his being. Guizot warns us that there is such an epoch in 
the life of the greatest conquerors, and, though Dr. Thirlwall 
will not admit that Alexander's head was ever turned, the 
reasonable interpretation of facts is here on the side of 
Niebuhr and Mr. Grote. He was hard-hearted, as William 
the Conqueror was hard-hearted, because he was supremely 
selfish — selfish with the selfishness of a god-like isolation. 
His general benevolence was no more than the Greek ' philan- 
thropy,' the outward courtesy with which he received the 
Athenian ambassadors after the destruction of Thebes ; but 
his emotions of friendship, so inconstant towards the great 
Aristotle, assumed an uncontrollable intensity towards 
Hephaestion, a kindred spirit, and, withal, ' phil-Alexander.' 

If we ask what is the secret and measure of Alexander's 
fame, Mr. Grote answers that he ' overawes the imagination, 
more than any other personage of antiquity, by the matchless 
development of all that constitutes effective force, as an indi- 


vidual warrior ' — here contrasted with the personal cowardice 
of Darius — ' and as organiser and leader of armed masses ; 
not merely the blind impetuosity ascribed by Homer to Ares, 
but also the intelligent, methodized, and all-subduing com- 
pression which he personifies in Athene. But all his great 
qualities were fit for use only against enemies, in which cate- 
gory, indeed, were numbered all mankind, known and unknown, 
except those who chose to submit to him.' Whether Alexander, 
essentially a man of one idea, would have devoted himself, 
had his life been prolonged, to consolidating and improving 
the numerous races whose representatives thronged the streets 
of the majestic city in which he died, or would have marched 
on till nothing remained to conquer, none can really decide. 
Mr. Grote takes the latter view. 

' Exalted to this prodigious grandeur, Alexander was at 
the time of his death little more than thirty-two years old, 
the age at which a citizen of Athens was growing into impor- 
tant commands ; ten years less than the age for a Consul at 
Eome ; two years younger than the age at which Timur first 
acquired the crown and began his foreign conquests. His 
extraordinary bodily powers were unabated ; he had acquired 
a large stock of mihtary experience ; and, what was still more 
important, his appetite for further conquests was as voracious, 
and his readiness to purchase it at the largest cost of toil or 
danger as complete, as it had been when he first crossed the 
Hellespont. Great as his past career had been, his future 
achievements, with such increased means and experience, 
were likely to be yet greater. His ambition would have been 
satisfied with nothing less than the conquest of the whole 
habitable world as then known ; and, if his life had been pro- 
longed, he would probably have accomplished it. Nowhere (so 
far as our knowledge reaches) did there reside any military 
Power capable of making head against him ; nor were his 
soldiers, w hen he commanded them, daunted or baffled by any 
extremity of cold, heat, or fatigue. The patriotic feelings of 
Livy disposed him to maintain that Alexander, had he invaded 
Italy and assailed Eomans or Samnites, would have failed, 


and perished like his relative, Alexander of Epirus ' — a 
sentiment which originated with the Epirotic prince himself, 
who complained that he, in his expeditions into Italy, had 
fallen upon the men's apartments, while his nephew, in 
invading Asia, had fallen upon the chamher of the women. 

' But,' continues Mr. Grote, ' this conclusion cannot be 
accepted. ... I do not think that even the Eomans could 
have resisted Alexander the Great, though it is certain that 
he never, throughout all his long marches, encountered such 
enemies as they, nor even such as Samnites and Lucanians — 
combining courage, patriotism, discipline, with effective arms 
both for defence and for close combat.' 

With the concluding remarks of Mr. Grote we substantially 
agree. We do not believe that Alexander deliberately intended 
to infuse an Hellenic spirit into Asia — for where could an 
Hellenic spirit be kept alive, except in small republics ? — any 
more than that his schemes of universal conquest were 
suggested by scientific curiosity. On the other hand, it is 
too much to argue from his change of dress and system of 
administration ' that he desired nothing better than to take 
up the traditions of the Persian EmjDire.' If he did not follow 
the advice of a preceptor of encyclopffidic catholicity in 
speculation, but Hellenic to bigotry in sympathies, we need 
not suppose that ' his preferences turned more and more in 
favour of the servile Asiatic sentiment and customs.' Nor 
can we found any conclusion on the fact that he did not earn 
the admiration which Gibbon lavishes on Genghis as a legis- 
lator, or that he did not resemble Charlemagne in the en- 
couragement which he extended to men of letters. That 
Alexander's conduct and ideas were due to no preconcerted 
scheme, but self- developed, and therefore progressive, we 
know ; what they would have become, we cannot say. After 
all, it was before he had passed the ordinary limits of political 
minority that the grave closed over this finished hero, whose 
whole character, no less than his actions, was hopelessly 
unjustifiable according to our present standard, but who is 
tie perfect ideal of antique and classical greatness. 


Mr. Grote does not follow out the separate histories of the 
great fragments of Alexander's empire, and dismisses in two 
chapters what occupies a great part of Dr. Thirlwall's last 
two volumes. We think he is right. Though much of Indian 
history for the last century belongs equally to the annals of 
England, yet the historian of England is distinct from the 
historian of British India. But, whereas India is a dejiendency 
governed by a merchant-company in Leadenhall Street,' Egypt, 
Syria and Asia Minor were from the first independent king- 
doms, disconnected as well from the Macedonian Monarchy as 
from the Greek republics. 

To do justice to the enlightened despotism of these Grseco- 
Oriental dynasties, we must consider the peculiarity of their 
foundation. The dismemberment of empires among different 
branches of a royal family and among powerful satraps or 
emirs is frequent enough, and the acknowledged tendency of 
an ill-assorted aggregate of various races to break up and 
reunite itself into smaller units partly justifies the contempt 
with which Niebuhr treats Alexander's schemes. But the 
truth is that, after the partition made at Triparadisus, the fate 
of the Empire was abandoned to a mere scramble, to the result 
of which nothing contributed but the personal abilities and 
mutual self-interest of the conflicting generals. Meanwhile, 
every member of the royal family had been exterminated : 
Kynane, Eurydike, and Philip Aridaeus by the bloodthirsty 
Olympias ; Olympias herself, and soon afterwards Eoxana and 
her son Alexander, by Cassander ; the young prince Herakles 
(son of Alexander by Barsine) by Polysperchon, and Kleopatra 
(sister of Alexander) by Antigonus. It was one of those epochs 
when the checks of authority and public opinion are for a 
while suspended, and the bad passions of men break forth 
into shameless extravagance. The exuberant development of 
military talent cannot redeem the death of all those lofty 
ideas and political virtues that almost sanctify, in the eyes 
of some, the perfidy and cruelties of earUer Grecian history. 

' This article appeared two years before the India Act of 1858. 


Eumenes might rival Alexander in the skill of his manoeuvres ; 
Demetrius Poliorketes carried to perfection the use of military 
engines, first organised hy Philip ; Kraterus applied in iEtolia 
the experience of mountain-warfare acquired in the Paropa- 
misus ; Seleukus braved on the Ganges those mighty armies 
of Northern India the report of which had dismayed the 
troops of Alexander ; hut Ptolemy alone has won from his 
contemporaries the praise of an ambition unsullied by deeds 
of blood, and from posterity that of a wise and beneficent 
administrator. The historian of Greece may well turn with 
distaste from a period the events of which are military, not 
civil, the acts of princes, not of nations. 

Mr. Grote is led by his desire to give artistic completeness 
to his work — a merit which ought in fairness to be set against 
the want of art in his style — to devote a chapter to the ' out- 
lying Hellenic cities ' ; in other words, to the affairs of 
Marseilles and its colonies, Heraclea in Pontus, and Bosporus 
(near Kertch) . The former has more than a commercial interest, 
as an ancient republic which manifested a Venetian sagacity 
both in its home and foreign policy. The two latter were 
despotically governed, the one till b.c. 281, the other till it 
became part of the Roman Empire ; but, except as outposts 
of civilisation, they fail to excite the sympathy of a modern 
reader. Greece, as we conceive it, does not include all the 
semi-barbarous particles of Hellenism scattered over the face 
of the earth. To explore these is the task of the antiquarian 
rather than of the philosopher ; they have, properly speaking, 
no history, and did but prepare the way for a more enduring 

Hellenic life enters a new phase after the death of Alex- 
ander. It is no longer Greek communities, but individual 
Greeks ; no longer Greece proper, but colonies planted by 
Macedonian kings, beginning with Philip, in Europe, Asia, 
and Africa ; no longer Greek institutions, but the Greek 
language, character, and manners — that perpetuate the sacred 
fire of Greek civilisation. This, however, while it cuts short 
the thread of history, is no subject for lamentation, being part 


of an economy too universal to be impugned. It may be true 
that ' the Greeks of Antioch, or Alexandria, or Seleukeia, were 
not like citizens of Athens or Thebes, nor even like men of 
Tarentum or Ephesus.' No doubt the ' Hellenized Asiatic ' 
•would have been considered ' by Sophocles, by Thucydides, by 
Socrates, as a foreigner with Grecian speech, exterior varnish, 
and superficial manifestations.' And so, the American back- 
woodsman might be regarded by our more delicate nerves as 
a lawless and unscrupulous ruffian. But as the latter may 
possibly be the best representative of Anglo- Saxon energy in 
a new continent, th£ former may have transfused no mean 
amount of Hellenic cultivation into those savage regions which 
the pure Greeks of the fifth century b.c. could never have 
penetrated. Modern research, aided by an unusual abundance 
of coins, has proved that it was possible for a Grecian j^rinci- 
pality, insulated among the mountains of Balkh and Bokhara, 
and soon detached from the Babylonian Kingdom, not only to 
retain the characteristic features of Greek nationality, but to 
colour perceptibly the philosophical system of India, on which 
it bordered. Mr. Grote characterises the Administration of 
the Gr8eco-Asiatic kings as ' not Hellenic, but completely 
despotic' Nevertheless, not to dwell on the Greek constitu- 
tions of particular towns, as Alexandria and Ptolemais in 
Upper Egypt, the spirit of Hellenism was so firmly established 
in the East as to resist the assimilating power of the Eoman 
Empire, and to survive, long after the Legions had melted 
away, the contagion of Mahommedanism. 

Meantime, the Western colonies of Greece, which had often 
outstripped the mother-country in the race of philosophy, 
carried to an extravagant pitch the anomalies which now 
beset her policj% The constitution established by Timoleon at 
Syracuse was superseded by an oligarchy like those created 
by Antipater in central Greece. This was again overturned, 
and, in the long struggles between the exiles and the dominant 
party, Agathocles, a dashing soldier-of-fortune and a ijrofligate 
politician, found means to. compass his own ends. ' He was 
of the stamp of Gelon and the elder Dionysius,' . . . and in 


' the acquisition as well as the maintenance of power displayed 
an extent of energy, perseverance, and military resource not 
surpassed by any one, even of the generals formed in Alex- 
ander's school.' He had just that mixture of cunning and 
daring suitable to one who would gamble desperately for a 
throne. He cannot be referred to any of those classes of 
despots described by Mr. Grote in an earlier volume. To the 
political character of Ludovico Sforza and a temperament 
like Caesar Borgia, he added the merciless determination of 
Alexander and the reckless audacity of a Scandinavian viking. 
' Agathokles is a man of force and fraud, consummate in the 
use of both. His whole life is a series of successful adven- 
tures and strokes of bold ingenuity to extricate himself from 
difiEculties.' Division of interests has ever been the bane of 
Sicily ; it was deplored by Hermoerates when the Athenian 
fleet was off the coast ; it was deplored by Falcandus when 
Henry VII. with a German army was descending from the 
Alps. To this discord, over which he gloated Uke a desperado 
in a plague-stricken city, Agathokles owed the success of the 
coups d'etat by which he crushed Sicilian liberty ; the know- 
ledge of like disaffection in Africa inspired the ruses de guerre 
by which he nearly made himself master of Carthage. That 
he died, in the plenitude of power, a victim to private and 
not to public hatred, is to be attributed to the want of that 
rare heroism which rushes on a contest in which the foremost 
is sure to fall. That he failed in his more brilliant projects 
was due to the unsteadiness of purpose that, happily for man- 
kind, is characteristic of unprincipled adventurers. 

We do not propose to follow Mr. Grote through the weary 
record of Grecian dishonour. The whole interest of his 
ninety-fifth and ninety-sixth chapters is concentrated on 
Demosthenes and Phokion, the great men who overshadow 
the ruins of a great people, now bandied to and fro between 
Macedonian generals. Phokion, says Plutarch, told the 
Athenians that they must either have power themselves or 
submit to him who had it. It was the curse of the times 
that honour and prudence could not be made to consist. The 



party of movement is, in our days, the party of liberty ; then 
it was the advocate of submission. When we read of the 
idolatrous worship of Demetrius Poliorketes, we are inclined, 
with Phokion, to accept the humiliation of Athens as inevit- 
able. When we think of the inherent might of a good cause, 
we side with Demosthenes. A modern statesman might have 
retired into rural seclusion, and devoted himself to enlightening 
or satirising his age. So did Cicero. A citizen of Athens 
was forbidden to stand aloof in a sedition, and Demosthenes 
grappled with the antagonist whom Phokion caressed. Both 
were patriots ; each in his way was a political martyr. But 
Demosthenes wins our hearts, not only as a contributor to 
the common treasury of noble sentiments, but as the cham- 
pion of those pure though limited interests out of which 
general well-being is compounded. 

Mr. Grote pauses on the brink of the ' gulf of Grecian 
nullity,' which separates classical Greece from what Mr. Grote 
styles, with unfeigned contempt, ' the Greece of Polybius.' 
He has added a solid work to English literature, a work 
which executes all that it professes. He has enabled the most 
phlegmatic of nations to realise the life of the most volatile. 
In short, though an Englishman, he has ' written a book.' 
Mr. Grote knows his subject too well to put forward his his- 
tory as exhaustive and final ; but we hope the time is distant 
when such a writer will cease to have interest for English 
scholars and gentlemen. 



Before Italy is completely 'made,' or the last sneers of her 
detractors have died away, the grave will have closed -over 
the master-spirit of her councils — the Themistocles of the 
Italian Revolution. Never since the death of Sir Robert 
Peel, in 1850, has any European country had such cause to 
mourn over an individual statesman ; nor must national 
partiality deter us from confessing that, of the two, the life 
of Cavour was incalculably the more important to Europe. 
From the year 1848 the eyes of the world have been fixed 
upon Italy, the destinies of Italy have been centred in Sardinia, 
and Count Cavour has been the presiding genius of Sardinian 
policy. No wonder that, as his life ebbed away under the 
subtle assaults of disease and the loss of blood, which is the 
favourite resource of Italian surgery, great crowds blocked up 
the avenues leading to his hotel, and manifested the deepest 
emotion as the last sacraments of the Catholic Church were 
borne in procession to his bedside. If the French people 
thronged the street in which Mirabeau lay dying, and millions 
of English artisans read with tears in their eyes the bulletins 
recording the death of him who sacrificed power to fill their 
homes with plenty, the Italians owe a still deeper debt to 
Cavour. The extent of his services is to be measured by the 
whole interval between the Italy of 1848 and the Italy of 
1861 — an interval short, indeed, in duration, but charged 
with events that will occupy a vast space in history. During 
this period the biography of Cavour is the biography of the 
leading State of the Italian nation. 

' This sketch of Cavour's life was written for immediate publication, with 
very imperfect knowledge, in a few hours, on the evening of June 6, 1861. It 
is here reprinted without alteration. 

z 2 


Born at Turin in 1810, Cavour, like his great rival, Gari- 
baldi, was by extraction a citizen of the county of Nice. 
Posterity will scarcely care to discuss the question whether or 
not his father was a parvenu, or to carry the genealogy higher 
than the great statesman himself, who has left no heir to his 
illustrious name and princely fortune. His contemporaries, 
however, ought to know that his family is one of the most 
ancient in Italy, that his elder brother is the Marquis of 
Cavour, and that the second of his two names (Camillo Benso) 
bears witness to a patrician pedigree. It is probable that his 
powers were slowly matured, although for the first half of the 
present century Italy offered so narrow a career to ambition 
that we need seek no other reason for his comparatively late 
entrance upon public life. Few, however, have enjoyed such 
varied experiences, or laid the foundations of a political 
education so deeply, as Cavour. He was trained for the 
military career in the Eoyal Military Academy at Turin, and 
nothing but his own independence of character and aversion 
to the life of a courtier prevented his being permanently 
attached to the household of Charles Felix, in which he 
underwent a short probation. Meanwhile, he was studying 
with the utmost eagerness what may be called par excellence 
the political sciences, and in particular those which bear on 
the wealth of nations. If the great work of Adam Smith was 
not his first introduction to the English language, it was long 
his favourite manual, and we have his own authority for 
asserting that he derived his financial views chiefly from this 
and other English authors. When, in opposition to the 
wishes of his family, he resolved on making the British 
metropolis the chief object of his travels, we have a curious 
testimony, in the shape of a private despatch, still extant, to 
the ' advanced ' opinions which he already held. The French, 
in their anxiety to appropriate all success to themselves, have 
attributed his subsequent career to his appreciation of the 
' principles of 1789,' forgetting that these principles, so far as 
they are sound or practical at all, had then- origin in this 
country, where Count Cavour had abundant opportunity of 


studying them at the fountain-head during a residence of 
several years. It was then that he formed those friendships 
in England to which he so often referred with pride, and 
strengthened, if he did not contract, those habits of thought 
which, surviving the reproach of Anglomania, have made his 
statesmanship an unique phenomenon in Italy, in marked 
contrast with the peculiarities of Italian intellect and cha- 

In 1842, Count Cavour returned to Turin, and patiently 
watched the signs of the times under the well-meant but 
capricious regime of Charles Albert. For the next five years 
we have little trace of the direction of his activity, except iia a 
few literary productions. Soon after his return from Great 
Britain he published his ' Considerations on the Present 
State and Future Prospects of Ireland ' in the ' Bibliotheque 
Universelle ' of Geneva, which were subsequently translated 
into English ; and we know also that he wrote an article on 
Piedmontese railways in a French periodical. In the year 
1847, he established the ' Eisorgimento ' in partnership with 
Count Balbo, and in concert with three other aristocratic 
coadjutors — Count Santa Rosa, the Chevalier Buoncompagni, 
and one of the D'Azeglios. In this journal are to be found 
the ' Cavourian ideas ' in embryo the theories of political 
and administrative reform, the sober aspirations after Italian 
unity, or ' unification,' as it was then called — the belief, now 
obsolete, in the possibility of combining Naples, Rome, and 
Piedmont in a Liberal crusade — and the bold views respecting 
the temporalities of the Church which have since become 
identified with his name. 

The turning-point of Count Cavour's life was the fatal 
campaign that ended with Novara. During this disastrous 
period of alternate hopes and fears, spasmodic efforts and 
half-hearted co-operation, he remained in the background. 
After it, he emerged one of the foremost figures in Italy, 
taking an intermediate place between the ' Moderates ' and 
the party of action, and reconciling the practical aims of the 
one with the comprehensive patriotism of the other. In 1849 


he entered the Chamber of Deputies, and in the following 
year succeeded Santa Rosa as Minister of Commerce and 
Agriculture. From this epoch his political career naturally 
divides itself into four stages. The earliest represents his 
Home policy, first as the colleague of D'Azeglio, and after- 
wards as President of the Council, up to the commencement 
of the Crimean War. The second includes that war and its 
immediate consequences to Sardinia. The third extends from 
1856 to the cession of Savoy and Nice to France. The last, 
and greatest, is that which nothing but his premature death 
has cut short. 

The principal measures of the first period were the in- 
auguration of a Free-Trade policy, the promotion of education, 
the appropriation of monastic property to State purposes, the 
development of the material resources of the country by the 
construction of railways, the improvement of postal communi- 
cation, the reform of the finances, and the entire re-organi- 
sation of the army and national fortifications. To appre- 
ciate the merits of the man who achieved these marvels within 
the space of three or four years, we must understand the 
political materials, or, rather, the want of all political materials, 
with which he had to deal. To explain and illustrate the 
demoralisation of the nation at this crisis is beyond our 
present scope, but it has been eloquently sketched by a quar- 
terly contemporary : — 

' The diificulties which met Cavour on his first accession 
to power were such as even now it is difficult thoroughly to 
estimate. The defeat of Novara had left the Piedmontese 
kingdom humiliated and weakened, and yet fatally implicated 
in the insurrectionary movement which each succeeding event 
in Europe contributed to discredit. There the Church and a 
semi-feudal landed aristocracy possessed a strong traditional 
power. The whole of the Administration of the little State 
was singularly backward and imperfect. Its legal and its 
commercial system, its municipal institutions ; the organisa- 
tion of its army, of education, of the public service, and of 
religious bodies ; its tariff, its roads, and system of communi- 


cation, and, lastly, its own national unity, were below those 
of nearly every other State in the Peninsula, except the Eoman 
itself. In the other provinces of Italy monarchical sentiments 
had not yet begun to exist, and national greatness was known 
only in the language of insurrectionary appeals. All the sad 
honours of the late campaign had been won by the old muni- 
cipal spirit, and Manin and Garibaldi had upheld the glory of 
historic republics. The strength with which, upon the shattered 
efforts of the national uprising, the old empire of the foreigner 
had been established, had crushed out all but the hope of feeble 
palliatives and evasions in the minds of the more cautious, 
and desperate conspiracies in those of the bolder. Parties 
were swaying between hopeless submission and hopeless re- 
bellion, amidst a state of things in Europe which seemed at 
each step to be extinguishing the last embers of revolution.' 

It was out of this chaos that Count Cavour brought some- 
thing like a Cosmos, and the success of his financial Ministry, 
beginning with 1851, and signalised by his masterly speeches 
on Nigra's financial project and the treaty of commerce with 
France in 1852, would have sufficed to create an ordinary 
reputation. In the latter year, however, it became evident to 
far-sighted men that all these internal reforms were bat means 
to an ulterior end, and that this end was the consolidation of 
Italian liberty. Nothing less than this could be signified by 
the separation of Cavour from D'Azeglio and Gavagno, on the 
avowed ground that they were temporising with interests which 
admitted of no delay or compromise. When Cavour, after a 
second visit to France and England, became Premier, in 
November 1852, the die was fairly cast ; and everything that 
followed, including the futile attempt to obtain a Liberal con- 
cordat from Eome, and even the role of Piedmont in the 
Crimean War, seemed but the legitimate development of a 
preconceived idea. Henceforth there was no alternative but a 
Cavourian or an anti-Cavourian policy. 

No one can now be concerned to deny that the second 
stage of Count Cavour's Administration was less the comple- 
ment than the consummation of the first. With a rare pene- 


tration scarcely distinguishable from actual prescience, he 
saw his opportunity, and resolved to turn the quarrel between 
Eussia and Austria to the account of Italy. It was with this 
view that he accepted, and perhaps suggested, the invitation 
of England to join an offensive confederation against Eussia, 
and penned his famous manifesto of January 12, 1856. The 
conduct of the Sardinian contingent before Sebastopol is too 
well known to need any eulogy here. But it should be remem- 
bered that the credit of retrieving Novara, and organising a 
Sardinian force that could compete in efficiency with the 
veterans of England and France, must be shared almost equally 
by La Marmora with Cavour. Upon the conclusion of peace, 
many Sardinian patriots, and, perhaps, even Cavour himself, 
were not a little disappointed. They felt that they could Ul 
afford to make such sacrifices for nothing, and that two or 
three Duchies of Central Italy would have been no unreason- 
able reward. Failing this, Count Cavour, in conjunction with 
the Marquis Villamarina, assumed an energetic attitude in 
the Congress of Paris, and openly arraigned Austria before 
the bar of European public opinion. The great speech which 
he delivered on his return to Turin contains the following 
memorable words : — 

' The course which we have followed for some years past 
has placed us several steps in advance. For the first time in 
our history, the Italian Question has been brought forward 
and discussed before an European Council, not, as at other 
times, with the design of aggravating the ills of Italy, but 
with the object, loudly proclaimed, of applying a remedy to 
her wrongs and avowing the sympathy which the Great Powers 
entertain for her cause.' 

The prophecy was verified; voluntary subscriptions for 
the fortification of Alessandria followed close on the peace, 
and in every subsequent conference on European affairs 
Sardinia took part in her own right, and almost insensibly 
gi-ew, as if by anticipation of an Italian monarchy, into a 
sixth Great Power. 

"Whether we are to date the Franco-Sardinian alliance 


against Austria from the interview of Plombieres, or should 
rather regard it as the tacitly-accepted result of common 
interests and common antipathies, it is certain that it was the 
handiwork of Cavour. Nor must we shrink from admitting 
that the price of French co-operation — the cession of Savoy 
and Nice — was contemplated by him, if it was not expressly 
stipulated, from the first. We can hardly believe that two 
men so astute as Cavour and Louis Napoleon would venture 
to practise dissimulation towards each other, and it ie more 
satisfactory, on the whole, to conclude that the whole cost, of 
political character as well as of territory, had been counted 
beforehand, and was included in the same bargain with Prince 
Napoleon's marriage. If Cavour erred, he erred in common 
with great and high-minded men, who, driven to elect between 
expediency of the highest order and a duty vanishing into a 
sentiment, have given a casting-vote to the former. In this 
campaign, as in all the other enterprises of Cavour, we trace 
the same cautious and tentative method of operation which, 
tempered with a wise audacity, constitutes no mean part of 
the art of ruling. Fortunately for his designs, the Austrian 
ultimatum was insulting enough to rally round him the whole 
country, yet his reply was moderate, though firm ; and it was 
not tiU after the battle of Magenta and the evacuation of 
Milan that he ventured to mention the emancipation of the 
whole peninsula. Then came the strange and still unaccount- 
able Peace of Villafranca, and Cavour for the first time seemed 
disposed to throw up his mighty task in disgust. He had 
once before withdrawn from office to facilitate the settlement 
of the great standing dispute about the rights and privileges 
of the clergy, but his retirement was hardly more than 
nominal. Now, at length, it appeared possible that the 
destinies of Italy might be shaped by other hands. This, 
howeve*, was not to be. In presence of the annexation of 
Lombardy and the •movements in Central Italy, the Eatazzi 
Ministry broke down, Cavour was recalled, nominally by the 
King, but really by the Italian people, to the helm of State, 
and the fourth stage of his political career began. 


That stage is cut short, but not concluded. His work 
remains a majestic torso, to be completed by other — need we 
say, inferior ? — artists. It is seldom, however, in the affairs of 
practical life, that the demands of the aesthetic faculty are so 
fully gratified as they are in the present aspect of this great 
historical drama. For a while, as Garibaldi overran Sicily 
and Calabria, flashing upon the effete system and spiritless 
armies of Neapolitan despotism like ^Eneas among the 
Shades, public enthusiasm was concentrated on the hero, to 
the disparagement of the statesman. It was felt, and truly 
felt, that Garibaldi . could inspire, while Cavour could only 
control, and that Garibaldi was free from the taint of paltering 
with the self-interested friends of Italy. Scrupulous minds 
could not reconcile the professions of the Cabinet of Turin at 
the outset of the expedition with their ready acquiescence in 
its results and eagerness to appropriate its triumphs. It is 
still hard to believe that every act in these great transactions 
can be squared with the rule of political consistency, or that 
posterity, which will have so much to admire, will have 
nothing to forgive. We may, perhaps, rejoice that we had 
not the keeping of Cavour's conscience during this, the agony 
of Italian regeneration ; but if the nobleness of the end and 
the complete success of the means cannot justify everything, 
let us at least suspend our judgment till the gaps in our 
knowledge are filled up, and the missing links in the speeches 
and despatches of the departed statesman can be supplied. 
We know enough to be sure that there is much that we cannot 
know, and that the course which seems to us so tortuous 
may, from a loftier point of view, be straight and direct. If 
Garibaldi has lived to see that Cavour and himself were fol- 
lowing the same object by different paths, we may well hope 
that the details of his policy wiU be vindicated, as its sagacity 
has been so triumphantly demonstrated. 

We shall not attempt to recapitulate the events of the 
past year, by which Cavour will hereafter be chiefly judged. 
Not that any one epoch of his life displays characteristics 
essentially different from any other. In the two most remark- 


able speeches of the last twelve months — that on the con- 
cession of authority to Government to accept annexations, 
and that on the Koman Question^may be discerned precisely 
the same train of thought that animates his earlier speeches 
and writings. In the latter he appeals, as ever, to the ulti- 
mate verdict of public opinion, and to the ever-growing testi- 
mony of facts to the soundness of his policy. 

The influence of Cavour upon Italy was in some respects 
similar to that of the First Napoleon upon France. As Napo- 
leon was no genuine Frenchman, so Cavour was no genuine 
Italian in mind, or temperament, or even in accent ; and- he 
was the stronger for this diversity. Under the shade of that 
cold and impassable exterior was room for an undergrowth 
of political virtues hardly known in Italy, and nothing but 
his solidity and indomitable power of resistance would have 
stemmed the shocks which even his versatility could not 
always avoid. In spite of a manner never very conciliatory, 
and sometimes disdainful, his popularity was almost un- 
bounded. The confidence reposed in him throughout by a 
devoted majority, after successive appeals to the country, 
reminds us of the support given to Sir Eobert Peel between 
1841 and 1845 ; and in one instance a private individual left 
a considerable fortune at his absolute disposal for the benefit 
of public education. Perhaps his greatest quality as a speaker 
was his extraordinary faculty of seizing the salient points of 
the subject, as his greatest quality as a statesman was pene- 
tration. His conceptions were not original. Some he bor- 
rowed from Gioberti, some from Farini, some from Mazzini 
himself. But he carried them out with a steadiness, and 
sometimes even with an insouciance, that were all his own. 
It remained for him to rescue Italy from the reproach which 
Guizot put upon it^that will and intellect are there dissevered, 
that her men of thought are mere doctrinaires and theorists, 
and her men of action mere empirics. So well did he under- 
stand his people and his times, that much ingenuity has been 
expended in proving that he comprehended in himself all the 
conflicting elements of the Italian movement, and for this 


reason was able to forecast long before the horoscope of his 
country. It is needless to say that this romantic view cannot 
be sustained. Cavour acted for the present, and in so doing 
he did much to mould the future. We need not exalt his 
penetration to satisfy an impossible idea ; it is enough for his 
fame that he justly interpreted the wants of Italy, and knew 
how to execute that which he had conceived. He has left 
none like him ; and many a true-hearted Italian, as he follows 
his corpse to the tomb, will be tempted to pronounce him 
felicem opportunitate mortis, as he remembers how few in the 
long catalogue of Itatlian liberators have died, like Cavour, 
before the memory of their achievements has been obliterated 
by fresh disasters. 



The Evangelical Eevival, specially identified with the name 
of John Wesley, has long since won for itself an important 
place in the social history of the eighteenth century, and 
has now heen made the subject of an interesting little mono- 
graph by Canon Overton, in Professor Creighton's series 
entitled ' Epochs of Church History.' Mr. Overton's volume, 
however, is not so much an historical narrative as a collection 
of biographical sketches and essays upon various aspects 
of the movement. One chapter is devoted to John Wesley 
himself, another to "George Whitefield and others of Wesley's 
immediate colleagues, a third to a comparison between 
Methodism and Evangelicalism —a term for which the author 
apologises — a fourth to the leading Evangelical clergy of the 
century, and a fifth to the contemporary Evangelical laity. 
Then we have separate chapters on the Literature, the 
Doctrines, and the Eesults, of the Eevival, with a discerning 
estimate of its weak points and of the opposition which it 
encountered. All these topics are treated in an independent 
and charitable spirit ; nor would it be easy to gather from 
Mr. Overton's temperate criticisms to which school of theo- 
logical opinion he may profess to belong. But, after all, we 
miss that which the character of the volume would have led 
us to expect — a consecutive account of the rise and progress 
of Methodism in this country. For this we must still look 
to more elaborate biographical works, like Southey's and 
Tyerman's Lives of Wesley, or learned monographs on the 

' A Review of Canon Overton's volume on this subject, reprinted from 
Macmillan's Magazine. 1886. 


movement, such as that to be found in Sir James Stephen's 
admu-able ' Essays on Ecclesiastical Biography.' 

The part played by the University of Oxford in the early 
history of Methodism is treated far too lightly by Mr. Overton. 
During the first half of the eighteenth century, that Uni- 
versity was equally degenerate both as a place of religion and 
as a place of learning. Too much has been made, it is true, 
of Gibbon's malicious strictures upon it ; but the evidence 
is conclusive that, during the two generations when Oxford 
Jacobitism was at its height, Oxford education was at its 
low^est ebb. The influence of religion was no less weakened 
in the University, and had, indeed, been on the decline ever 
since the Eestoration. Notwithstanding their boisterous 
demonstrations of sympathy with the High Church Party 
in politics, many of its senior members, both clerical and lay, 
secretly leaned to Rationalism, and the Deism which came in 
with the Revolution of 1688 became rife again under the 
Georges. In the year 1730, three students were expelled for 
holding Deistical tenets : several Heads of Colleges issued a 
joint notice censuring the spread of Deism among the stu- 
dents ; and the Vice-Chancellor, in a programma, solemnly 
warned tutors and undergraduates against literature calcu- 
lated to disturb Christian faith. 

It was in this unpromising soil, teeming with High Church 
prejudices, deeply saturated by worldliness, and now tainted 
with Deism, that the seeds of Methodism were sown at 

John Wesley, its chief founder, was the son of an excel- 
lent clergyman, Samuel Wesley, Eector of Epworth, and, 
after passing through Charterhouse and Christ Church, had 
been elected Fellow of Lincoln in 1726. Having been 
ordained in the previous year, he acted for a while as his 
father's curate, and, on his return to Oxford in 1729, found 
his younger brother, Charles, then an undergraduate of Christ 
Church, already a member of a small religious association, 
which afterwards expanded into the Methodist communion. 
Of this Uttle band John Wesley at once became the acknow- 


ledged leader. Their earliest meetings were held for the 
purpose of reading the Greek Testament, and encouraging 
one another in study and good works. But within a year 
their sympathies widened, and they extended their charity to 
others. William Morgan, one of their number, visiting a 
condemned prisoner, was struck by the misery which he wit- 
nessed in the gaol, and persuaded the Wesleys to aid him in 
what may be called a prison-mission. With the consent of 
the Bishop of Oxford, and of his chaplain, they undertook 
the work of visitation, both in Bocardo, the debtors' prison, 
and in the county gaol. Active benevolence soon claimed 
even more of their energy than earnest study, which, how- 
ever, they never abandoned. This handful of friends, them- 
selves very poor, started a school for poor children, and 
maintained the mistress at their joint expense ; assisted poor 
debtors, and kept their families from penury ; visited the 
parish workhouse, relieved the sick, and in all their ministra- 
tions strove to better the spiritual condition of those whom 
they befriended. Nor were the undergraduates neglected. 
Wesley and his associates did their utmost to rescue the 
weaker of them from vice, and to bring them under the 
influence of quiet and serious companions. They encouraged 
them to study earnestly, and to lay out their time carefully, 
specially insisting on habits of close thinking ; for they were 
intolerant of indolence, even in thought. In order to gain 
the confidence of his juniors, John Wesley would invite them 
to breakfast, and endeavour to interest them in his own 
efforts. To him and to his fellows, the essence of the move- 
ment was not devotional, but practical — not the propagation 
of a new creed, but the moral salvation of human souls. 

From the first they adopted a strict code of religious 
observance, and made a practice of receiving the Holy Com- 
munion weekly — in that age, a rare act of religious devotion. 
Clayton, one of their first adherents, is said to have induced 
his colleagues to cultivate the habit of i-igorous fasting. It 
was thoroughly in harmony with the self-denial and abstrac- 
tion from the world already characteristic of the Society. 


For instance, Wesley and his companions would sometimes 
break off deliberately in the middle of a sentence, when the 
chapel bell began to ring, that they might ' beware of the 
lust of finishing.' It is strange that George Whitefield, 
another of the early converts, should have almost fallen a 
victim to his ascetic enthusiasm. He confessed that he at 
first believed that Christianity had required him to ' go 
nasty ', ; for which reason he abstained from washing, clothed 
himself in evil garments, and fasted so continuously during 
Lent that he became unable to walk upstairs, and was com- 
pelled to submit to medical treatment. Charles Wesley, too, 
injured his health by excessive fasting ; and John Wesley so 
exhausted himself, not only by fasting, but by overwork and 
walks of a length then almost unknown among students, that 
he broke a blood-vessel and was laid by for a time. The 
saddest case of all was that of William Morgan, whose fasting 
laid the foundation of an illness which developed madness, 
and terminated in his untimely death. This event naturally 
produced a sensation in the University, and was most unfairly 
laid at the door of John Wesley ; but Morgan's father, no 
friend to Methodist practices, entirely exonerated Wesley, and 
even entrusted to him another son as a pupil. 

This ascetic discipline seems to have been almost the only 
outward and visible peculiarity of the Society calculated to 
attract much attention or to provoke hostile criticism. As Mr. 
Overton remarks, it is ' difficult to realise the fact that, in a 
place especially devoted to Christian education, the mere sight 
of a few young men going quietly to receive the Holy Com- 
munion every Sunday at St. Mary's, their own University 
Church, should have attracted a crowd of ridiculing spectators,' 
or that piety and active benevolence should have been ' thought 
eccentric in a little body of men, the leader of whom was an 
ordained clergyman, and all of whom were intending to take 
Holy Orders.' But it is not so astonishing that an unsocial, 
if not Pharisaical, demeanour, sometimes attended with 
slovenliness of costume, and even with neglect of personal 
cleanliness, should have exposed the young reformers to some 


obloquy among their companions, most of whom, no doubt, 
would have gained much by cultivating their acquaintance. 
At all events, they soon incurred a storm of juvenile ridicule. 
They were nicknamed Bible-moths, Supererogation-men, 
Sacramentarians, the Holy or the Godly Club. But the 
name by which they were specially known, and which has 
acquired a world-wide currency, was that of Methodists. 
This name was not of modern origin. There was an ancient 
society of physicians known by it, and, like the kindred name 
of ' precisians,' it had been applied, as Dr. Calamy informs 
us, to ' those who stood up for God.' It was now fastened 
on this little group of Oxford zealots, probably on account of 
the methodical rules whereby they endeavoured to regulate 
their behaviour and hours of work. Nor were the under- 
graduates their only foes. The seniors of Christ Church held 
a meeting to consider what could be done against them. At 
Lincoln College, the Rector and Fellows showed determined 
hostility to them : the Master of Pembroke threatened to 
expel Whitefield unless he gave up visiting : a brother Fellow 
would not oblige a Methodist by reading prayers for him in 
chapel, lest his obnoxious practices should be thus facilitated. 
Still they persevered, and persecution doubtless contributed 
to keep their union unbroken. "Whitefield, afterwards 
as great a power in the Eevival as Wesley himself, did 
not in Oxford assert his independence. As a servitor of 
Pembroke, he occupied too lowly a position to admit of his 
taking a lead in a Society which, modest as it was, consisted of 
Fellows, Tutors, and ordinary students. Moreover, he entered 
College nearly three years after the movement was initiated, 
and during the early part of his career knew little of its pro- 
moters, though ardently desirous of joining them. This was 
accomplished by an accident. He was called to the bedside 
of a poor man who had attempted to cut his throat, and, 
pitying his miserable condition, sent in haste for Charles 
Wesley, begging the messenger to conceal his own name. 
The injunction was disobeyed. Charles Wesley sought out 
Whitefield, asked him to breakfast, and immediately intro- 



duced him to the Society. So narrow were his means, that 
during his three years' residence at Oxford he received but 
24Z. from his friends, supporting himself mainly on the emolu- 
ments of his servitorship and the kind presents of his tutor. 
There was, indeed, little wealth in the infant Methodist 
Church, and John Wesley himself, having fallen into debt, 
had been thankful to find a garret for fifty shillings a year. 

But Methodism in Oxford was short-lived, and its history 
virtually ends with the ill-advised mission of John and Charles 
Wesley to Georgia in 1735. Long before this it had been 
manifest that, without John Wesley's personal influence, the 
Society must cease to flourish. During his absence in 1733 
the number of communicants shi-ank from twenty-seven to 
five ; and it was because he then appreciated the importance 
of Oxford as his special field of duty that he declined the 
living of Epworth. In 1738 there were but three Methodist 
gentlemen in the University. In the following year none 
visited the prison or the workhouse, and the little school was 
on the eve of being given up. The Oxford Methodists could 
not survive without the presence and example of their leader ; 
and within three years of his departure they were virtually 
extinct in the city which had been at once the cradle of the 
movement and the stronghold of opposition to it. After his 
return from Georgia, in 1738, John Wesley revisited Oxford 
at intervals, but found himself unable to resuscitate the 
Metliodist Society during these flying visits. The old pre- 
judice against it, however, was still alive. In 1740, a student 
named Graves, being suspected of Methodism, was forced, 
in order to obtain his testamur, to sign a paper renouncing 
' the modern practice and principles of the persons commonly 
called Methodists.' At Midsummer, 1741, John Wesley spent 
three weeks in Oxford, in order to inquire about the exercises 
for his B.D. degree, and preached a sermon, of which it was 
predicted by Gambold, a former associate, then unfriendly to 
him, that it was not worth preparing it, as there would be 
no audience. In 1744 he occupied the University pulpit for 
the last time, in spite of the authorities, who would gladly 


have excluded him, if they could, from preaching in his turn. 
In the course of this sermon he roundly upbraided the gowns- 
men as a generation of triflers, and reproached the Fellows 
for their proverbial uselessness, pride, haughtiness of spirit, 
impatience, peevishness, sloth, gluttony, and sensuality. It 
was subsequently arranged that in future some other Fellow 
should preach in Wesley's place. In 1751, according to the 
Statutes, he resigned his Fellowship on his marriage. Six 
years later, Eomaine, who as a student had stood aloof from 
Methodism, was excluded from the University pulpit for 
insisting upon Justification by Faith, and the imperfection 
of our best works. Finally, in 1768, the Vice-Chancellor 
expelled six Methodist students from St. Edmund Hall as 
disturbers of the peace ; and this high-handed act was actually 
defended by Dr. Johnson at a time when University discipline 
was at its lowest— gambling, drunkenness, and blasphemy 
being condoned as venial offences. After this we hear no 
more of Methodism at Oxford. It is not hard to understand 
why it failed to command success there after its first con- 
quests, since it appealed more and more to the religious 
enthusiasm of the less educated classes, abandoning any 
attempt to satisfy the speculative reason. 

Thirty years before this official condemnation of Metho- 
dism at the University, it had begun to spread with mar- 
vellous rapidity over the country. John Wesley himself 
dated the beginning of the Eevival from the spring of 1738, 
when he came under the influence of the Moravian, Peter 
Bohler, and experienced a sudden ' conversion,' which eh 
regarded as the birth of his true spiritual life. But the 
energy of his nature soon caused him to rebel against the 
mystic ' stillness ' of the Moravians, as well as the quietism 
of Law, his first spiritual guide, and launched him upon a 
career of missionary labour, which he carried on without in- 
termission for more than half a century. The preface to his 
Journal records that ' he published more books, travelled 
more miles, and preached more sermons, than any minister 
of his age.' As Canon Overton tells us, ' the whole length 


and breadth of England were traversed by him over and over 
again : he made frequent journeys into Scotland and Ireland ; 
and at every town and village where he stayed he was ready, 
in season and out of season, to preach the everlasting Gospel.' 
He constantly rode on horseback forty, fifty, or sixty miles 
a day : he found time for reading and writing on his journeys ; 
and he would often preach three or four times a day. It has 
even been calculated that, in the course of his working-life, 
he travelled above two hundred thousand miles, and preached 
some forty thousand sermons. From the first he was the 
life and soul of Methodism ; yet Canon Overton, defending 
him against the charge of despotic self-will, remarks that 
several of its most distinctive features were not originated by 
him, but adopted in deference to the opinions of others. One 
of these was the practice of field-preaching, initiated by 
Whitefield on February 17, 1739, when he delivered an 
open-air sermon to the colliers of Kingswood, near Bristol. 
Wesley felt and confessed a great repugnance to such a 
de\'iation from Church order, but soon afterwards followed 
Wliitefield's example, though he never rivalled Whitefield's 
power of entrancing vast audiences. In the same year, the 
first separate meeting-house for Methodists was founded, also 
in Bristol ; and, perhaps in consequence of this, Wesley and 
his associates found themselves generally excluded from the 
pulpits of churches. The next step towards separation was 
taken in the following autumn, when lay-preaching was sanc- 
tioned by Wesley, though not without great reluctance. In 
1743, the Rules of the Society, which still constitute its fun- 
damental law, were drawn up, and issued with the signatures 
of John and Charles Wesley. In 1744, the first ' Conference ' 
was held, and ' class-meetings ' soon became a characteristic 
feature of Methodism. Mr. Overton, however, is unwilling to 
suspect the early Methodists of schismatic intentions. Ac- 
cording to him, the class-meetings ' arose simply from the 
necessity of finding money to pay for what Wesley himself 
would have called a "preaching-house" at Bristol.' They 
were instituted for the purpose of a weekly collection, and 


converted incidentally into gatherings for the mutual censor- 
ship of conduct. With equal charity, he endeavours to show 
that many other Methodist institutions — such as the ' love- 
feasts,' the 'watch-nights,' the 'quarterly tickets,' the 'band- 
meetings,' the ' circuits,' the offices of ' superintendents ' and 
' circuit-stewards,' and the ' Conference ' — grew naturally out 
of practical exigencies, and were not consciously devised as 
parts of an elaborate system designed to supplant the National 
Church. At all events, it is certain that, notwithstanding 
his disparagement of parochial discipline, Wesley remained 
at heart an Anglican, both in doctrine and policy. He was 
a stout opponent of Calvinism, he condemned the Puritan 
spirit of the seventeenth century, he avowed his dislike of the 
Presbyterian services in Scotland and his admiration of the 
services prescribed by the English liturgy; and, though he 
was not borne to his grave, like his brother Charles, by clergy- 
men of the National Church, he always manifested, and espe- 
cially in his later years, a cordial sympathy and respect for 

Canon Overton, like Tyerman, Wesley's latest biographer, 
passes rapidly over the physical manifestations, or ' outward 
signs ' of the Methodist propaganda, on which Southey lays 
so great a stress, and which impressed contemporary observers 
as the most striking feature of the Eevival. Now, it is 
important to observe that contagious paroxysms of religious 
excitement are by no means peculiar to Methodism, or even 
to Protestantism. On the contrary. Protestantism has never 
yet rivalled CathoHcism in its power of inspiring sudden and 
wholesale devotion. The sweeping triumphs of Latin Chris- 
tianity over the barbarian conquerors are still unparalleled, 
or paralleled only by the success of Xavier and his followers. 
Pilgrimage was the expression of an intense and universal 
rehgious impulse, and it may well be doubted whether the 
most powerful spiritual leaders of modern times could extort 
so laborious a pledge of sincerity from their disciples. The 
audiences of Peter the Hermit and Bernard thrilled with a 
more overwhelming flood of emotion than John Wesley's 


congregations at the Kingswood collieries. The cry of ' God 
wills it,' that burst from the great Council at Clermont, spread 
wider and sank deeper into the heart of Christendom than 
the groans which filled the early Methodist prayer-meetings. 
The annals of the Middle Ages are full of passionate ebulli- 
tions of religious enthusiasm, sometimes coloured by irolitical 
feelings, but invariably accompanied by the two characteristic 
symptoms of Methodist Eevivalism — affections of the nervous 
system, and a temporary reformation of life and manners. 
They recurred durijig the exciting epoch of the Crusades, and 
the camp of Walter the Penniless was probably fertile in 
scenes wilder than those which John Wesley complacently 
recorded in his Diary, and justified in his letters to his 
brother Samuel. Again, during the memorable years of 
tribulation which preceded and followed the Black Death, 
the emotional and spasmodic element became dominant in 
the religion of the day, and vented itself in three extra- 
ordinary outbreaks during the fourteenth century. Of the 
same nature were the panics which led to so many massacres 
of the Jews, and the strange popular suspicions which proved 
the ruin of the Templars. The Reformation cleared the 
atmosphere for a time ; not, however, without leaving the 
germs of new religious disorders, belonging to a different 
type, and corresponding to the more spiritual character of 
the Eeformed doctrines. 

The sectarian fanaticism of the seventeenth century, ex- 
travagant as it was, owed much of its extravagance to politi- 
cal fanaticism. But we are fortunate in possessing, from 
the pen of the celebrated Jonathan Edwards, an elaborate 
' Narrative of the Revival of Religion in New England ' durmg 
the years 1734 and 1735, which shows that Methodist 
Revivalism, as the systematic propagation of a religious 
epidemic, had been anticipated in the American colonies. 
Mr. Edwards's narrative is couched in the language of the 
' Pilgrim's Progress ' and the Puritan divines, and is highly 
charged with the quaint technical phraseology of Calvinism. 
We read of ' legal terrors,' ' legal distresses,' ' legal humilia- 


tion,' 'legal convictions,' 'legal awakenings,' 'legal hum- 
blings.' The author writes in the spirit of a physician de- 
scribing the pathology of a familiar disease to a brother- 
professor, and displays a candour and good faith which does 
not shrink from recognising the boasted ' visions ' as figments 
of the imagination. Nevertheless, his pages are darkened by 
a mysticism compared to which the fierce penitence of the 
Flagellants may appear genial and humane. In all the 
varieties of experience which he enumerates, we do not find 
that he recognises any exemption from the ' Slough of 
Despond.' According as they have or have not passed this, 
he inexorably determines the respective destinies of men. He 
maintains the doctrine of God's arbitrary will to have been 
the most salutary medicine for the times. In many of the 
converted he discerned ' a sort of complacency in the attribute 
of God's judgment as displayed in His threatenings of eternal 
damnation to sinners,' and adds, that 'they have sometimes 
almost called it a willingness to be damned.' Yet this morbid 
exaltation does not seem to have struck him as any evidence 
of mental aberration, nor did he suspect that instances of 
suicide and religious insanity, which he admitted, were re- 
lated to Kevivalism by any physical connection of cause and 

Probably this New England Revival is the earliest re- 
corded precedent, within Protestant memory, for that initiated 
by John Wesley. It is remarkable that his sermons were far 
more productive of convulsions and hysterical fits than those 
of "Whitefield, although, as Canon Overton observes, they 
were less sensational, and, in their published form, appear 
little calculated to excite sentimental frenzy. On the other 
hand, it is certain that, while Charles Wesley mildly con- 
demned, and Whitefield distrusted, such proofs of instan- 
taneous conversion, John Wesley accepted and favoured them 
as witnesses of the Spirit ; at least, until a late period of his 
life. As his brother frankly said, with a large fund of common 
sense and administrative ability, he ' seemed born for the 
benefit of knaves.' He owned that, in some cases, ' nature 


mixed with grace,' and ' Satan mimicked this work of God.' 
But he did not perceive that indulgence of the religious 
passions has in it something of sensuality, and that Pro- 
testant Kevivalism, when it descends to a kind of jugglery 
in the production of moral renovation, cannot afford to cast 
reproach on the meretricious arts of Eomanism. Wesley even 
declared, in deprecating the remonstrances of his brother 
Samuel, that he had known people converted in their sleep ; 
but most of the instances which he mentions strongly resemble 
the accounts of demoniacal possession in the Gospels, the evil 
spirits being exorcised by prayer, and the converts relieved by 
a sudden access of saving faith. No wonder that Methodism 
was discredited in the sceptical world by these extravagances, 
that grave bishops and moderate Churchmen withdrew the 
qualified countenance which they had first given to it, and 
that before long the miracles of Methodist Revivalism were 
out-Heroded by certain foreign enthusiasts called the French 
Proi^hets, against whom John Wesley himself warned his fol- 
lowers. Before his death the fanatical excesses of early 
Methodism had already spent their strength, and a more 
rational tone of practical religion had supervened ; but, 
among the communities which he founded, Revivals on a 
smaller scale have recurred at irregular periods, both in this 
country and in America. Among the latter, may be specially 
mentioned those of 1816, 1843, and 1857-8, when, as we are 
informed by a sympathetic chronicler, the crews of ships on 
their homeward voyages were affected by the same wave of 
religious emotion which was sweeping over their countrymen 
on shore. Aonther memorable Revival spread itself on both 
sides of the Atlantic in 1859-60, until its progress was signifi- 
cantly checked by the outbreak of the great American Civil 
War. We must not, however, allow these questionable phe- 
nomena to occupy too large a space in our general conception 
of Methodism. While many of its first converts insisted upon 
signs from Heaven, tens of thousands were led to embrace it 
by the force of moral conviction : its cardinal doctrines left 
a permanent impression on the religious world, and became 


the inheritance of the great Evangelical School at the begin- 
ning of the present century. 

The wonderful expansion of Methodism during the life of 
its founder is perhaps without precedent in religious history. 
In 1730, as we have seen, its only adherents were a handful 
of Oxford students : twelve years later, it numbered eleven 
hundred members in London : long before the end of the 
century, all Great Britain and nearly all the American colonies 
had rung with the eloquence of Whitefield or with the sober 
but hardly less effective appeals of Wesley himself : meeting- 
houses had sprung up in every important town, an army of 
missionaries was engaged in itinerating over the country, and, 
partly through Lady Huntingdon's influence, Methodism had 
found a considerable amount of acceptance even in the higher 
ranks of society. Franklin's testimony to the power of 
Whitefield's preaching is well known ; but Chesterfield, 
Bolingbroke, and even Hume, were also among his hearers. 
At the time of Wesley's death, in 1791, the Methodist Church, 
or Connexion, as it was called, numbered above three hundred 
preachers in Great Britain alone, and nearly two hundred 
in the United States, where the success of the Revolution had 
made it necessary for Wesley to establish a separate organi- 
sation, under a ' superintendent,' whom, to the horror of good 
Churchmen, he consecrated as all but a bishop. The number 
of members in the United Kingdom already exceeded seventy 
thousand, and rose to more than one hundred thousand in 
the course of the next decade. Considering how carefully 
Wesley had weeded out backsliders and weak-kneed brethren : 
considering also that schism had broken out at an early stage, 
and detached a considerable body from the orthodox Connexion, 
this aggregate may be taken as representing, not merely 
the nominal, but the effective strength of Methodism. As it 
had sprung from the bosom of the Established Church, so its 
converts were chiefly drawn from that communion, or, at 
least, from a class of persons who belonged to none of the 
ordinary sects of Nonconformists. That it gave a powerful 
impulse to Dissent, in spite of Wesley's personal attachment 


to the Church, may be inferred from the fact ' that, whereas 
at George I.'s death the proportion of Dissenters to Church- 
men was about one to twenty-five, by 1800 it was computed 
to be one to four.' On the other hand, its indirect eifect in 
stimulating zeal within the Church itself was undoubtedly 
great. Though neither Sunday Schools, nor Foreign Mis- 
sions, nor the Abolition of the Slave Trade, can be claimed 
among the results of Methodism — indeed, Whitefield himself 
was a slave-owner — all these movements owed much to the 
religious and benevolent spirit kindled by Methodism, as well 
as by the more constant influence of the Evangelical School. 

The short chapter in which Canon Overton shows the 
affinity and the contrast between Methodism and so-called 
Evangelicalism is one of the most interesting in the volume. 
It would be a great delusion to imagine that ' Evangelical ' 
religion, as now understood, was invented or first developed 
by the apostles of Methodism. Not to speak of the great 
Puritan divines, or of such American writers as Jonathan 
Edwards, there had never been wanting in the Church of 
England a succession of pious and sober-minded clergymen 
holding the same views as were afterwards connected with the 
names of Wilberforce and the Clapham School. Both Metho- 
dists and Evangelical Churchmen ' aimed at reviving spiritual 
religion ; they both so far resembled the Puritanism of the 
seventeenth century in that they contended for the immediate 
and particular influence of the Holy Spirit, for the total 
degeneracy of man, for the vicarious nature of the Atonement, 
for the absolute unlawfulness of certain kinds of amusement, 
for the strict observance of the Lord's Day or Sabbath (for 
they used the words indiscriminately) ; and they both agreed 
in differing from Puritanism, by taking either no side in 
politics at all, or else taking the opposite side from that 
which the Puritans would have taken, by disclaiming sym- 
pathy with Dissenters or Nonconformists, by glorying in the 
fact that they were members of the Church of England 
(Methodists no less than Evangelicals), and by the most staunch 
loyalty to the Throne.' The distinctions between them con- 


sisted mainly in the differences of spirit and mode of working. 
The Methodists were restless and impulsive, the Evangelicals 
valued moderation and self-restraint : the Methodists drew 
their converts from the lower and lower-middle classes, ' the 
backbone of Evangelicalism was in the upper and upper- 
middle classes ' : the Methodists adopted an elaborate organi- 
sation of ' societies,' in lieu of the parochial system, to which 
the Evangelicals adhered. But there were many connecting 
links between the two, and many excellent clergymen whom 
it would be difificult to assign exclusively to either camp. 
Such were James Hervey, William Eomaine, John Newton 
(the friend of Cowper), Thomas Scott, Kichard Cecil, the two 
Milners, Walker of Truro, and Fletcher of Madeley, who, 
though closely identified with Methodism, were thoroughly 
attached to parochial work, and refused to be diverted from 
it. These men, with others, to whom Canon Overton devotes 
short notices, were only not Methodists because they were 
satisfied to labour for the good of souls within thesphere traced 
for them by the Church of England, and would assuredly 
have kept alive Evangelical religion in the country, even if 
Wesley and Whitefield had never existed. 

As we review the work of the Evangelical Eevival of the 
last century, we cannot but recognise in it a noble expression 
of individual piety, and a powerful instrument for the purifi- 
cation of national character. The Christian life has seldom 
been seen in greater perfection, or missionary enthusiasm in 
a manlier form, than among the apostles of Methodism, with 
their Evangelical precursors and successors in the Church of 
England itself. They may have been inferior in mental 
stature to the greatest of the Puritan leaders, and in 
scholarly culture to the pioneers of the Tractarian movement. 
They knew little of Biblical criticism, and never dreamed of 
the influence to be exercised by modern science on theology : 
many articles of their dogmatic creed will not bear the 
scrutiny of a later philosophy : their popular discourses were too 
highly charged with appeals to mere religious emotion : their 
domestic controversies were sometimes carried on with an 


acrimony unworthy of their professions. But in personal 
hoUness, in self-denial, and in single-minded devotion to 
Christian duty, as exemplified by Christ and His Apostles, 
they rose as far above the ordinary moral standard of their 
age as they sank below its highest intellectual aspirations. 
Theirs was no barren faith : it constantly bore fruit in good 
works, and its unseen operation was felt in that practical 
spirit of philanthropy which stirred the heart of England, 
while the dreams of Eousseau were plunging France into 
anarchy, in the latter part of the eighteenth century. This 
is a debt which the nation owes to Wesley and his Evangelical 
contemporaries, but which has never been fully acknowledged. 
It was they who laboured most abundantly among the Chris- 
tian ministers of their day to associate religion with humanity, 
making it a true bond of sympathy between classes, teaching 
rich men to regard the poor as their brothers in Christ, and 
poor men to console themselves with a hope beyond the grave, 
welcoming into their fellowship the very outcasts of society as 
the chosen objects of Divine mercy; and thus insensibly com- 
bating those perilous counsels of revenge and despair which 
possessed the minds of the French peasantry at the same 
epoch, and culminated in the French Eevolution. 



Two centuries have elapsed since the publication of Anthony 
Wood's ' History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford,' 
yet no serious attempt has been made until now to improve 
upon that wonderful, but cumbrous and singularly ill-arranged, 
compilation of precious materials. More than one modern 
antiquary has essayed to complete it by annotations or con- 
tinuations ; but nearly all subsequent historians have been 
content to quote it as an original authority, and Mr. Maxwell 
Lyte is the first who has ventured to go behind Anthony 
Wood, in the spirit of modern criticism,^ by ransacking the 
manuscripts of Bryan Twyne, and other unpublished docu- 
ments in the Record Office and the great public libraries. 
The result is a handsome volume of the highest value and 
interest, which, however, must be regarded as an historical 
torso, since it concludes with the death of Cardinal Wolsey^ 
In fact, Mr. Maxwell Lyte's History, in its present form, 
would be more properly entitled a History of the University 
in the Middle Ages, and we must still have recourse to 
Anthony Wood for the more eventful periods of the Eeformation 
and the Civil Wars, in which the University played a foremost 
part. But a cursory glance at Mr. Lyte's table of contents 
is sufiicient to show that a History of the University in the 

' A review of ' A History of the University of Oxford, from the Earliest 
Times to the Year 1530,' by H. Maxwell Lyte, M.A., Deputy Keeper of the 
Public Records. London. 1886. Reprinted from ' Macmillan's Magazine.' 

= A curious proof of Anthony Wood's almost mechanical accuracy is afforded 
by an entry in the ' Fasti Oxon.' stating that John Favour, of New College, 
g-aduated as LL.B. on April ,81, 158.5; which impossible dale turns out to be 
textually copied from the original record. 


Middle Ages is no dry record of merely academical transac- 
tions. On the contrary, as he truly observes, the early clerks 
of Oxford were anything but ' a body of sequestered students, 
intent only upon the advancement of learning.' They were a 
struggling and militant society, constantly in conflict with 
external authorities claiming spiritual or civil jurisdiction 
over them : swayed by every current of popular opinion : 
waging an eternal warfare against the townsmen among 
whom they lived ; and distracted among themselves by feuds 
of race, language, political sentiment, and philosophical or 
theological conviction.' The well-known distich which de- 
scribes Oxford as the hotbed of national strife was amply 
justified by the facts ; and Mr. Lyte's readers are fully 
rewarded for their patience in mastering the details of the 
mediffival curriculum by narratives of disorderly outbreaks 
which make us marvel how, in so turbulent an atmosphere, 
quiet study could be carried on at all. 

It is not very easy to understand why the author should 
have reserved for his ninth chapter an exhaustive examination 
of the myth which assigned the foundation of the University, 
and even of University College, to Alfred the Great. Suffice 
it to say that not a shred of real historical evidence can be 
produced in support of it. The passage which deceived 
Camden, and was imported by him into Asser's ' Life of King 
Alfred,' is now generally rejected as a forgery, dating, at 
earliest, from the reign of Eichard II. Other records, alleging 
an equally ancient origin, are now believed to be of an equally 
recent date ; and University College is more than suspected 
of having fabricated the whole story, for its own purposes, 
at the end of the fourteenth century. The Schools of Oxford, 
out of which the University afterwards developed itself, can- 
not be traced back with certainty to a period beyond the 
reign of Henry I. Indeed, one of Mr. Lyte's critics regards 
Giraldus Cambrensis's account of his visit in 1186 as the first 
historical mention of them. But the authentic history of the 
City in which these Schools grew up begins at least two 
centuries earlier, and was so important during the age imme- 


diately preceding the Norman Conquest as to deserve a fuller 
notice than Mr. Lyte awards to it. 

Old as it is by comparison with the University, the City 
of Oxford is new by comparison with London and other seats 
of Eoman colonies in Britain, or even with the older settle- 
ments of Saxons. Its situation on a low ridge of gravelly 
soil between the Cherwell and the Thames, protected by a 
network of watercourses on every side but the north, might 
well have recommended it for a station of the Eoman legions, 
yet there is no record of its having been inhabited for cen- 
turies after the Saxon Conquest. A few traces of British 
occupation, as well as the remains of Eoman villas, have been 
found in the neighbourhood, but not on the actual site, of 
Oxford : the Eoman road from Dorchester to Bicester passes 
near, but not through, it ; and in the long struggles between 
the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex, no siege of Oxford, or 
battle for the possession of it, is recorded among the incidents 
of any campaign. It is an equally significant fact that we hear 
nothing of Oxford in connection with the Abbey of Dorchester, 
but nine miles distant, where St. Birinus is stated to have esta- 
blished his see in 624, as the first Bishop of the West Saxons. 

The unwritten history of Oxford, indeed, really begins with 
the foundation of St. Frideswide's Nunnery in the eighth 
century, on the site now occupied by Christ Church ; for the 
fact of this foundation in 727, or soon afterwards, admits 
of no reasonable doubt, whatever legends may have since 
obscured it. At this period Oxford, which had once been 
enclosed within the Mercian dominions as they encroached 
southward on "Wessex, had again become a border-town of 
Mercia. This position it finally lost when Egbert, who suc- 
ceeded, in the year 800, extended his rule over all England. 
The alleged establishment of a mint at Oxford by King Alfred 
rests on the existence of coins with the inscription Orsnaforda, 
or Oksnaforda, the interpretation of which has of late been 
gravely disputed. The first undoubted mention of the City 
in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is under the date 912. ' This 
year,' says the chronicler, ' died ^Ethered, ealdorman of the 


Mercians, and King Eadward took possession of London, and 
of Oxford, and of all the lands which owed obedience thereto.' 
It is evident that Oxford already ranked as a place of some 
importance, since King Edward the Elder thus separated it 
from the province of Mercia, ruled by his sister, widow of 
^thered, and brought it, with London, under his own imme- 
diate dominion. It is probable, but not certain, that its 
natural defences were strengthened during this century by 
the remarkable conical mound known as the Castle Hill, to 
guard it against incursions of the Danes moving up the river, 
' the great border-stream of Wessex and Mercia.' It seems 
to have been the first town erected on the Thames above 
London, and must have increased in importance when London 
and the Lower Thames valley were lost to England in the 
Danish Wars. There are some reasons for conjecturing that 
it had actually fallen into the hands of the Danes in the raids 
which preceded the peace of Wedmore (878), and was then 
restored. At all events, it appears to have been a fortified 
place before the end, if not at the beginning, of the tenth 
century, and to have become the capital of a shire, incor- 
porated into the kingdom of Wessex, already on the eve of 
embracing the whole kingdom of England. 

It was at Oxford, and probably within the precincts of its 
Castle, that iElfward, son of King Edward, died in 924, very 
soon after his father. Oxford, however, can scarcely have 
been a town of the first dignity, if it be true that a National 
Gemot or Council was held, not there, but at Kirtlington, 
eight or nine miles distant, in 977, the King and Archbishop 
Dunstan being present ; and that, when the Bishop of Credi- 
ton suddenly died there, his body was conveyed, not to St. 
Frideswide's, but to St. Mary's at Abingdon. At the opening 
of the next century, however (1002), it was forced into an 
infamous notoriety by the massacre of Danes perpetrated 
there by King Ethelred's order on St. Brice's day. In the 
course of this massacre, which is known to us through a 
charter of King Ethelred himself, the unfortunate Danes took 
refuge in the tower, or church of St. Frideswide's ; but the 


people set fire to the wooden roof, and they were all hurned 
with the sacred edifice. It is hardly surprising to hear that, 
seven years later (1009), the victorious Danes, having marched 
through the Chiltern Woods, sacked and hurned Oxford, return- 
ing to their ships. They visited the country again in the 
following year ; and in 1013 King Sweyn imposed ' his law ' 
on the men of Oxford and Winchester — towns which, in this 
century, are mentioned as almost in the same rank with 

In 1015 Oxford again became the meeting-place of a 
National Gemot, and the scene of another treacherous murder. 
As the English Chronicle informs us in its simple language, 
' there the Ealdorman Eadric insnared Sigeferth and Morkere, 
the chief thanes in the Seven Burghs. He enticed them into 
his chamber, and therein they were foully slain. And the 
King then took all their possessions, and ordered Sigeferth's 
widow to be taken, and brought to Malmesbury.' In the 
following year Ethelred died, and was succeeded by his son 
Edmund Ironside, who had seized the widow of Sigeferth and 
made her his wife. After a short but stormy reign of a few 
months only, Edmund suddenly died on his way back from 
Gloucester to London. According to Henry of Huntingdon, he 
was assassinated at Oxford by order of the same traitor, Eadric, 
who had in the meantime submitted to Canute. Two years 
after his accession (1018), Canute also held a Gemot at Oxford, 
where ' the Danes and Angles were unanimous for Eadgar's ' 
(that is, for Enghsh) ' law.' In Oxford, therefore, and doubt- 
less within the precincts of Oxford Castle, were enacted several 
tragical incidents of the Danish invasion, as well as the 
solemn acceptance of English law, though under a Danish 
ruler. Eighteen years later, on the death of Canute, in 103G, 
another great National Gemot was held at Oxford, and elected 
Harold Harefoot, under the influence of Northern thanes and 
Londoners, opposed by Earl Godwine, who, however, secured 
the dominion of Wessex for Harthacanute. In 1039, or 1040, 
Harold Harefoot died at Oxford. Nothing is heard of the 
City during the next twenty-six years, except that its tolls 



were regulated by law under Edward the Confessor, and that 
Earl Harold, afterwards king, passed through it on an expe- 
dition into Wales. In 1065, however, it once more becomes 
memorable, as the place selected for the famous Gemot at 
which Tostig, Harold's brother, was outlawed. Morcar was 
made Earl of Northumberland, and the Danish law was 
actually re-enacted, apparently at the instance of powerful 
nobles, representing the Danish section of England, whom 
Harold resolved to conciliate, against the wish of the King. 

Considering the space which Oxford fills in the history of 
he eleventh century, it is remarkable that it should have 
played no important part in the great drama of the Norman 
Conquest. It has been alleged, indeed, that it was besieged 
and half-demolished by William the Conqueror ; but there is 
no trustworthy evidence of such a siege, or of William having 
even approached so near to Oxford as Wallingford — the point 
at which he is traditionally reported to have crossed the 
Thames. What is certain is, that in 1071 the Castle of 
Oxford was either built, or rebuilt on Saxon foundations, by 
Kobert D'Oilgi. This Baron is also reported to have built the 
churches of St. George in the Castle, and St. Michael at the 
North Gate, as well as that of St. Mary Magdalen and St. 
Peter in the East, besides repairing other parish churches. 
He was also the reputed builder of the original Hythe Bridge, 
which probably formed the only western approach to the 

By far the most authentic description of Oxford under the 
Conqueror is to be found in Domesday Book, which, however, 
makes no reference to churches or other pubhc buildings. In 
this unique record Oxford, ' as well within the wall as with- 
out,' is stated to have contained ' 243 houses paying geld, 
and 478 so waste and destroyed that they cannot pay the 
geld.' Much stress has been laid on this last statement, as 
supporting the story of a recent siege ; but it has been ex- 
plained, with greater probability, as the result of devastation 
committed by the rebel mob of the North, headed by Edwin 
and Morcar, who had broken up the Gemot at Northampton 


in 1085, and ravaged the country as far as Oxford, where it 
was ultimately held. At all events, we find but 243 houses 
paying ' geld,' some of which are described as lastce ; and the 
whole population of Oxford at that period has been estimated, 
upon a review of the data afforded by Domesday Book, as not 
exceeding one thousand. A large proportion of the registered 
houses or ' mansions ' are styled ' mural,' because held subject 
to an obligation to repair the wall — perhaps no more than 
an earthen rampart. Twenty-five of the mansions belonged 
to the King : sixty-nine to the Archbishop and five Bishops, 
among whom the Bishop of Lincoln was by far the largest 
proprietor: twenty-eight to the Abbeys of Bury St. Edmunds, 
Abingdon, and Eglesham : ninety-five to Eobert D'Oilgi and 
eighteen other nobles of various degrees : eighteen to priests 
and canons in Oxford ; and sixty-two to Oxford burgesses or 
other private owners. Not the slightest allusion is made to 
an University, or even to Schools. It is easy to fill up this 
picture with graphic details of the petty Oxford community, 
trafficking at markets and fairs, assessing its annual con- 
tribution of 60Z. to the royal treasury at periodical town- 
meetings, and holding courts or motes for various purposes, 
one of which retained from an earlier age the singular name 
of Portmannimot. But all such details must needs be imaginary 
in the absence of contemporary records ; and it is not even 
certain whether the City then contained only eight, or as 
many as fifteen churches and chapels, or whether it had been 
mapped out into parishes. There can be no doubt, however, 
that in Port-Meadow, still the common pasture of the Oxford 
freemen, we have a genuine survival of pre-Norman times ; or 
that in the Sheriff of the City we have, under a misleading 
name, a true representative of the ancient Port-reeve, whose 
business it was, as it still is, to watch over this municipal 

The later history of the mediaeval City is almost merged 
in that of the University, and a large part of Mr. Lyte's 
volume is devoted to an account of the incessant and almost 
internecine struggles between the clerks and the townsmen. 

z 2 


The late Mr. J. E. Green, himself a native of Oxford, con- 
demned the mediaeval University, in no measured terms, as 
having crushed the liberties of the City. It is no less true, 
however, that the City ov?ed its prosperity and renown, 
though not its existence, to its academical population ; and 
that, when the strife between the rival communities was at 
its height, the most powerful weapon of the University was 
the threat of removal to some other provincial town. This 
threat was partially carried out on more than one occasion. 
In 1209, and again in 1239, there were secessions of discon- 
tented Oxonians to Paris, Beading, and Cambridge. Soon 
after the famous Parliament of Oxford in 1258, there arose a 
desperate conflict, in which the clerks seem to have been 
most to blame. The King withdrew his protection from 
them; and a large body of Oxford scholars migrated to 
Northampton, whither many refugees from Cambridge had 
already betaken themselves in consequence of a similar riot. 
They afterwards took an active part in defending North- 
ampton against the Eoyal forces, but ultimately returned 
to Oxford in 1264 or 1265, in deference to orders issued by 
Simon de Montford in the King's name. So familiar was the 
idea of migration from Oxford, that Walter de Merton, in 
founding the first Oxford College, expressly authorised its 
scholars to settle, if necessary, at some other place of general 
education. The murderous affrays of 1279 and 1854, which 
are graphically depicted by Mr. Lyte, were followed by a 
temporary suspension of lectures and dispersion of students, 
few of whom, however, appear to have settled elsewhere. 
The memorable secession to Stamford, in 1334, was 
chiefly the result of violent feuds between the northern and 
southern ' nations ' within the University itself ; and the 
memory of it was preserved in an oath against attending 
lectures at Stamford, which, up to the year 1827, was ad- 
ministered to all candidates for a degree. 

In the meantime, the chronic disputes between the Uni- 
versity and City had assumed so aggravated a form as fre- 
quently to call for royal intervention. The very earliest 


document preserved in the University archives records the 
punishment of certain Oxford townspeople who had arrested 
and hanged three clerks. But the most compendious state- 
ment of the grievances alleged by the citizens is to be found 
in a Eoyal award (scarcely noticed by Mr. Lyte) made by 
Edward I. in 1290, which embodies certain articles of peace 
then concluded between the parties. It begins with a mutual 
renunciation of all past claims up to the date of the appeal, 
and a promise on the part of the Mayor and Burgesses to 
respect in future all the rights and privileges of the Uni- 
versity under their Charter, which, however, they allege to 
have been grievously strained. Their first complaint is that 
the Chancellor of his own authority sets free prisoners who 
have been lawfully arrested by the Aldermen and Bailiffs, and 
cites the latter to ai^pear before himself. To this complaint 
the King replies by conceding this authority to the Chancellor 
where one of the parties to a quarrel is a clerk, except in cases 
of homicide, or 'mayhem,' and enjoins the Mayor to seek 
redress for any abuse of such jurisdiction in the King's Courts. 
The next complaint is that the Chancellor appropriates to 
himself victuals forfeited under the statutes against fore- 
stalling and regrating : of which the King disposes by giving 
a concurrent jurisdiction to the Chancellor and the Mayor, 
with a provision that victuals so forfeited shall be given to 
the Hosijital of St. John. A third complaint is that the 
Chancellor imposes exorbitant fines and recognisances on 
laymen (townspeople) imprisoned for trespasses against clerks, 
as the condition of their liberation : a practice which the 
King censures, ordering him to exact only reasonable sums 
in future. A fourth complaint is that, whereas the Bailiffs 
of the City are bound, under the University Charter, to be 
sworn before the Chancellor in some ' common place,' they 
are compelled by the University to take the oathTn St. Mary's 
Church, with no saving clause for their allegiance to the 
Crown, and with an additional clause precluding them from 
recourse to the King's Courts. This usurpation, as might be 
expected, is absolutely condemned and prohibited by the King. 


The fifth complaint is of the same nature as the second, but 
relates to the forfeiture of unsound moat or fish, and is de- 
cided in the same way, by assigning the forfeited victuals to 
the Hospital of St. John. The sixth complaint is that the 
' chartered privilege of the University ' in respect of juris- 
diction, which properly belongs only to scholars, is unduly 
extended so as to embrace tailors, barbers, writers, parchment- 
makers, and others, with their families. This point seems to 
have been settled by agreement, without the King's interven- 
tion, by defining the University privilege as including clerks 
and their families, with servants and tradespeople, even of 
the classes specified, if immediately engaged in waiting upon 
clerks. The seventh comj)laint is that the University will 
not allow townspeople to let their houses to scholars for a 
term of less than ten years. This limitation is annulled for 
the future by the King, who, however, forbids any collusion 
whereby scholars may be turned out of houses tenanted by 
them, or rents may be raised against them. The eighth 
complaint is that townspeople are summoned before the Chan- 
cellor at unreasonable times without due notice : in response 
to which the King requires one day's notice to be given in 
ordinary cases, but allows summary citations for violations 
of the peace. The ninth complaint is that, at the suit of clerks, 
the Chancellor deprives soldiers and other strangers passing 
through Oxford of their riding-gear and trappings to make 
satisfaction for debts contracted elsewhere. This arbitrary 
power is restricted by the King to debts contracted in Oxford. 
The tenth complaint is that, when a layman is desperately 
wounded by a clerk, the Chancellor demands the person of 
the clerk to be surrendered to him, before it is known whether 
the sufferer be wounded to death. On this point the Chan- 
cellor is covertly rebuked by the King, and sternly enjoined 
to desist from the rescue of clerks in such cases. The last 
complaint is that the University insists upon houses rented 
by scholars being valued every five, instead of every seven, 
years : which complaint the King overrules, declaring five 
years to be the period contemplated in the Charter. This 


complaint, like the seventh, is, of course, a protest against the 
ancient claim of the University to something like fixity of 
rent, if not of tenure, for houses in the occupation of 
scholars : a claim which proved the fertile source of innumer- 
able quarrels. 

The frequent reference in this award to the Chancellor 
and Charter of the University opens out a long vista of anti- 
quarian controversy, which runs through almost every chapter 
of Mr. Lyte's history. The unlearned reader, however, may 
be content to believe that, after all, ' the University of Oxford 
did not spring into being in any particular year, or at the 
bidding of any particular founder : it was not established by 
any formal charter of incorporation. Taking its rise in a 
small and obscure association of teachers and learners, it 
developed spontaneously into a large and important body, 
long before its existence was recognised by prince or by 
prelate.' In the earliest writs and documents relating to 
its privileges it is recognised as an existing institution ; but 
perhaps the decree issued by Henry III. in 1244 may deserve 
to be called ' the Magna Charta of the University,' since it 
definitely ' created a special tribunal for the benefit of students, 
and invested the Chancellor with a jurisdiction which no 
legate or bishop could confer, and which no civil judge could 
annul.' The origin of the Chancellor's ofiice is enveloped in 
much obscurity ; but he is clearly described, in a letter of the 
Papal Legate, dated 1214, as the nominee of the Bishop of 
Lincoln, whose vast diocese then embraced Oxford. It does 
not follow that even then he was not elected by the University 
Convocation ; and it is certain that soon afterwards he was 
so elected, though his election long continued to be subject 
to confirmation by the diocesan. Probably his gradual 
absorption into the academic body was facilitated by the fact 
that, unlike the Chancellor at Paris, he was not a member of 
a Cathedral Chapter, or hving under the eye of a resident 
bishop. At all events, by the middle of the thirteenth cen- 
tury he was treated as an independent representative of the 
University, while the Archdeacon of Oxford was the official 


deputy of the Bishop. A century later he was given full 
jurisdiction, by the Pope himself, over all members of the 
University, religious and lay, to the exclusion of the Arch- 
deacon ; and it was solemnly ordained that his election by 
the University itself should be sufficient, without the confirma- 
tion of the diocesan. 

Mr. Lyte observes a judicious reticence on the rise and 
growth of the Proctorial authority. Proctors are associated 
with the Chancellor, as delegates of the University, in letters- 
patent of 1248 ; but it does not appear what their original 
functions were, or how they were appointed. Anthony Wood 
tells us that, in 1343, the University agreed that one Proctor 
should always be a Northerner, and the other a Southerner, 
for the purpose of scrutinising the votes at elections of the 
Chancellor. On the other hand, at the University of Paris 
the Proctors specially represented from the very first the four 
' nations ' into which the Faculty of Arts was divided, the 
Deans being the chosen officers of the Faculties as such. 
Considering that the University of Paris was the elder sister, 
at least, if not the mother, of the English university, this 
analogy raises a strong presumption in favour of the Proctors 
being at first representatives of the two nations into which 
the Oxford ' Artists ' were divided. Such a presumption de- 
rives some confirmation fi'om an expression found in a letter 
of Adam Marsh, written in 1253, where ' duo Rectores pro 
Artistis ' are mentioned as subscribing a statute against the 
Friars. Mr. Lyte identifies these two Eectors with the Proc- 
tors, and at Cambridge the phrase ' Rectores sive Proctores ' 
was common in the Middle Ages. But, as Proctors are spe- 
cifically named in an University Ordinance of about the 
middle of the thirteenth century, it is perhaps safer to regard 
them generally as officers elected by the whole body of 
graduates, filling a place not unlike that of the Eector at other 
Universities, but more particularly charged with the financial 
duties of stewards and collectors. The importance attached 
to such duties, as compared with the highest objects of 
education and learning, is a distinctive feature of Academical 


statutes in the Middle Ages. Like the primitive Church, the 
primitive University was essentially a society of men strug- 
gling for their livelihood ; and the great movements of thought 
which agitated Oxford in the age of the Schoolmen and of 
Wyclif left fainter traces in University legislation than 
squabbles with the City over pecuniary rights, and conflicts 
between the secular and regular clergy, in which material 
interests were very largely involved. 

These conflicts, indeed, engrossed much of the internal life, 
and wasted much of the energy, of the University during the 
whole period of the Middle Ages. Probably the claustral schools 
of the Benedictines were the cradle of Academical study ; but 
the University had already outgrown its infancy, and had deve- 
loped a vigorous secular teaching before the establishment of 
the Mendicant Friars at Oxford in the early part of the thirteenth 
century. During the remainder of that century, these Orders, 
encouraged by the great Robert Grostete, supplied the Uni- 
versity with its most eminent lecturers ; and it is the special glory 
of the Franciscans to have produced in the same age Adam 
Marsh and Eoger Bacon. But the secular clerks soon became 
jealous of the Friars, partly because they sought to obtain 
degrees in theology without satisfying the requirements of the 
Arts Faculty, which at Oxford, no less than at Paris, claimed 
a paramount ascendancy ; and partly because they were 
constantly decoying young students into the assumption of 
monastic vows. Merton, the first of Oxford Colleges, was ex- 
pressly founded by a Bishop of Rochester as a seminary for 
the secular clergy, and no 'religious ' person could be admitted 
to its benefits. The same poHcy was adopted by almost all 
the other founders of Colleges, and the gradual rise of Colleges 
marked the downfall of monastic influence. Mr. Lyte seems 
to have undervalued the importance of Colleges in the medi- 
aeval University, when he says that they did not become 
predominant until near the end of the fifteenth century. No 
doubt it was not until 1432 that ' chamber-dekyns,' or non- 
collegiate students, were formally abolished by statute, and for 
many years afterwards a majority of students may have been 


lodged in Halls rather than in Colleges. But it is certain that 
even in the fourteenth century, when the number of Colleges 
rose from three only to seven, they were already the dominant 
element in the University. Out of about sixty-eight Proctors 
who are known to have held office in that century, all but 
eighteen were entered as members of a College; and it is 
highly probable that in several of these eighteen cases the 
name of the College was accidentally omitted. The propor- 
tion of Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors (or Commissaries) 
known to have been members of Colleges is much smaller in 
the earlier part of the century, but very considerable in the 
later part. Mr. Lyte himself, with a happy inconsistency, 
dwells at great length on the history of each coUegiate found- 
ation, and furnishes elaborate extracts of their statutes, which 
are by no means the least readable or instructive part of his 

Few readers will care to master the chapters which deal 
in detail with the organisation of studies and disputations in 
the University of the Schoolmen. Those who are familiar 
with the restless multiplication and amendment of examina- 
tion-statutes in modern Oxford will be slow to believe in the 
existence at any one time of a symmetrical or uniform 
working-system, and will readily surmise that various 
arrangements for lectures and degrees, commonly described as 
successive, were really in simultaneous operation. The broad 
features of the mediaeval curriculum may, however, be 
concisely stated. Neither the University nor the Colleges 
enforced any entrance-examination ; and Freshmen had to 
undergo a preliminary training in grammar, then regarded 
as the basis of all knowledge. The subsequent course of in- 
struction was mainly logical. But it is material to observe 
that, in that age, logic, in common with most of the other 
' Arts,' represented an accomplishment deemed to be useful. 
It was not only as an intellectual discipline, but as giving 
the power of reading and writing Latin, that grammar was 
assiduously taught. It was as instruments of controversy 
and persuasion that logic and rhetoric were cultivated. It was 


chiefly for the sake of practical astronomy, closely allied to 
astrology, that mathematical lore was valued. Logic derived 
an additional advantage from its supplying the method by 
which proficiency in all other studies was tested, and the 
mediaeval disputations were the prototype of modern examina- 
tions. Little or no attention was given to scholarship, in the 
ordinary sense, to literary culture, or to the acquisition of 
useful knowledge. The grand aim of education was to sharpen 
the logical powers, and so to prepare the mind for instruction 
in the higher professional FoiCulties — law, medicine, and, 
above all, theology — which mediaeval thinkers agreed in re- 
cognising as the crown of all the sciences. The ' three philo- 
sophies ' — natural, moral, and metaphysical — were mainly 
reserved for the interval of three years between ' determina- 
tion,' which qualified a student for the degree of Bachelor, 
and ' inception,' which constituted him a Master, and con- 
ferred on him the lucrative privilege of teaching. 

This system, if such it can be called, was finally over- 
thrown by the Reformation ; but it was undermined by the 
Eenaissance, which made itself felt at Oxford earlier than 
is usually supposed. Mr. Lyte connects this movement with 
the return of the Papal Court to Eome after the Great Schism, 
and his description of it, though somewhat too biographical, 
is extremely interesting. It may be true, as he says, that 
' no attempt was made in England to revive the study of 
classical literature before the reign of Henry VII.' But Mr. 
Lyte himself mentions five more or less eminent students 
from Oxford who attended the lectures of Guarino at Ferrara 
in the first half of the fifteenth century, and became collectors 
of classical books. 

The effect of the Eenaissance in modifying the studies of 
Oxford may be illustrated by a comparison between the con- 
tents of College libraries at the end of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries respectively. A very interesting catalogue 
of the Oriel College Library in the year 1375 has lately been 
published. From this it appears to have consisted almost 
entirely of manuals on grammar, logic, philosophy, theology. 


and law, both canon and civil — the studies cultivated in the 
various Faculties. Translations of Aristotle, copies of the 
Digest and the Code, works of Peter Lombard, Thomas 
Aquinas and Duns Scotus, treatises of Augustine, Gregory, 
and other standard divines, with a Bible, and a Latin edition 
of Euclid, make up the staple of this collection. Literature 
is conspicuous by its absence, and the Classics are represented 
by ' Macrobius de sompno Scipionis.' There is, unhappily, no 
record of the books contributed by William Rede and Simon 
Bredon to form the Merton Library about the year 1376 ; but 
the few books which are specifically named among the many 
said to have been presented by Fellows of Merton during 
the same period are of an exactly similar character. On the 
other hand, a catalogue of Lincoln College Library, compiled 
about 1474, or a century later, includes a large number of 
the Latin Classics, such as Virgil, Cicero, Livy, Terence, 
Plautus, Horace, and Juvenal. The University Register 
shows that, so far back as 1448, the Georgics of Virgil were 
the subject of University lectures ; and in the catalogues of 
books given to the University by Humphrey, Duke of Glou- 
cester, in 1439 and 1443, we find, among tomes of scholastic 
lore, Cicero's Orations and Epistles, Livy, Suetonius, Ovid, 
Pliny, Terence, and an oration of Machines, with Dante, 
Boccaccio, and Petrarch. The University system of disputa- 
tions and examinations was still based on the old learning, 
but the new learning had already penetrated into the libra- 
ries. It was soon to receive an impulse from the efforts of 
Erasmus and his fellow-labourers, which, after a brief re- 
action, ultimately secured for Latin and Greek scholarship 
a supremacy in Oxford education as complete as that once 
held by scholastic logic, until it was once more challenged 
by the progress of philosophy, history, and natural science. 

Though rich in illustrations of mediaeval life and manners, 
the history of the University before the Reformation has few 
points of contact with the great political events of that 
romantic period. The clerks of Oxford were not concerned 
with the escape of Matilda from Oxford Castle, or with the 


two Councils held there by Stephen, or with the Parliament 
of 1258, which gave its name to the Provisions of Oxford, or 
with the frequent residence of the Court at Woodstock. The 
Barons' War of the thirteenth century, the Scotch and French 
Wars of the next two centuries, the Peasants' Revolt, with its 
sequel in the insurrection of Jack Cade, the Wars of the 
Eoses, and the constitutional reaction under the Tudors, left 
no trace on academical life, and scarcely find a record in 
Academical annals. The great and direct influence which the 
University was destined to exercise on the State Church in the 
sixteenth, and on the State itself in the seventeenth century, 
was as yet undeveloped and unrealised. But the depth and 
extent of its influence upon the world of thought and belief 
can hardly be overestimated. There were trained most of 
the great ecclesiastics who became, not only the prelates, but 
the Chancellors and statesmen, of the Middle Ages. There 
natural science found its earliest apostle in Eoger Bacon, and 
scholastic philosophy two of its profoundest exponents in 
Duns Scotus and Bradwardine. There Wilham of Ockham 
is believed to have raised the standard of revolt against Papal 
authority in matters of faith, and to have proclaimed the 
• severance of logic from theology. There John Wyclif (to 
whose career Mr. Lyte devotes an admirable chapter) as- 
suredly became the pioneer of the Lollard movement, and 
anticipated by four generations several of the doctrines after- 
wards preached by Luther. The ignorant statement of Huber, 
that ' Oxford was nowhere to be found in the great Church 
Councils of the fifteenth century,' is almost the reverse of the 
fact. True it is that it no longer eclipsed Paris, as it had in 
the golden age before the great pestilence, and that its part 
in ecclesiastical affairs was secondary to that played by the 
leading University of Western Christendom. But it steadily 
and successfully resisted the scheme proposed by the Uni- 
versity of Paris for ending the Great Schism, insisting that a 
General Council must be summoned. This General Council, 
which met at Pisa in 1409, deposed both the rival Popes, and 
procured the election of a Friar who had taken a Bachelor 


of Divinity's degree at Oxford. At the Council of Constance, 
held in 1414, the University of Oxford was ably represented; 
and Henry of Abingdon, afterwards Warden of Merton, pro- 
duced a great impression by his sermon advocating a reforma- 
tion of the Church. The University was specially invited 
to appear by its delegates at the Council of Basle in 1431 ; 
and though it was reduced to solicit contributions towards 
the expense of the mission, it found a worthy representative 
in John Kemp, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. Poor 
as it was, it maintained a small public library when such 
institutions were still unknown in Italy, which, enriched by 
the noble benefaction of Duke Humphrey, was among the 
marvels of the age before the invention of printing. If 
Oxford was not the place at which this momentous invention 
was first adopted in England, it certainly possessed one of 
the very earliest presses, from which issued the first classical 
book printed in England — a significant emblem of the coming 
Eenaissance, in which the University took so leading a part. 
Two conclusive proofs of the position occupied by the Uni- 
versity at the beginning of the sixteenth century are the 
superb projects of Cardinal Wolsey for organising there a 
propaganda of ' the new literature in the service of the old 
Church ' ; and the unscrupulous efforts of Henry VIII. to 
obtain decrees from the Oxford Convocation in favour of the 
Divorce and the Eoyal Supremacy. 

But we are here on the confines of the Eeformation-period, 
and almost beyond the border-line of the Middle Ages, which 
embrace the infancy and youth of the University. Hence- 
forth its political and social importance was to increase, and 
a more conspicuous place was reserved for it in the general 
history of England. But its original character was to be 
changed. It was . no longer to share with Cambridge an 
almost exclusive monopoly of English education in all its 
departments, from the highest realms of philosophical specu- 
lation to the simplest rudiments of grammar. It was no 
longer to be the schola secunda ecclesice in Europe; and the 
intellectual centre of gravity in England was inevitably to 


be shifted to the commercial and political centre of the 
kingdom, in the Metropolis itself. In the ampler and brighter 
day now dawning upon the nation, the light of scholastic 
learning, so long kept alive at Oxford, could not fail to wax 
pale and dim. In becoming secularised, the University for- 
feited that unique prestige which it derived from the trans- 
cendent authority of the medifeval Church. It was still to 
become a great power in the State, and to educate a long 
succession of scholars and gentleman for service in Parlia- 
ment, in the sacred ministry, and in the learned professions. 
But its empire over the national mind was no longer to be 
so far-reaching, and its place in the national life was never 
again to be so imposing, as it had been in the Middle Ages. 



Three Lectures delivered at the Royal Institution of Grea t Britain 
in April, 1890. 

The University of Oxford first emerges into history at the 
close of the twelfth century. Whether its origin is to be 
sought in the monastic seminaries of St. Frideswide's and 
Oseney, or in a migration from the University of Paris ; and 
whether or not we believe that Eobert Pullus lectured on 
Theology in 1133, and Vacarius on Eoman law in 1149, the 
Schools of Oxford had evidently not acquired the character of 
an University until the reign of Henry XL, and did not acquire 
the name of an University until the following century. The 
most sceptical of modern critics admit the truth of the positive 
statement, made by Giraldus Cambrensis, that he publicly read 
at Oxford his work on the Topography of Ireland in the year 
1186 or 1187. If we can trust his further assertion, that the 
most learned and famous of the English clergy were then to 
be found at Oxford, and if ' the doctors of the different 
faculties,' whom he professes to have feasted, were actually 
possessors of regular degrees, we must believe the Academical 
system to have reached a considerable maturity long before 
popes or kings took cognisance of it. 

In such an age, it is true, such an institution as the infant 
University could never have organised itself permanently 
without active encouragement from the Crown, as well as 
from the Church. At the same time, its early growth appears 
to have been essentially spontaneous, and far more indepen- 


dent than we might have expected, both of ecclesiastical control 
and of Royal patronage. The ' Schools of Oxford,' which ulti- 
mately became incorporated into ' The University of Oxford,' 
were not claustral but secular, and centred in a particular 
quarter of the city, removed from the great religious houses. 
The lecturers were, doubtless, ' clerks,' in the mediaeval sense, 
but mostly private adventurers, owing allegiance to no monas- 
tic superior. There was no resident Bishop of Oxford, and no 
Chancellor of an Oxford Cathedral, under whose superintend- 
ency they could be directly placed, like their brethren in the 
University of Paris. The one paramount authority which 
they recognised was that of their diocesan, the Bishop of 
Lincoln ; but he lived at a safe distance, and the Archdeacon 
of Oxford was the highest resident functionary of the Church. 
Still less were the ' Schools of Oxford ' overshadowed, like those 
of Paris, by the feudal and official hierarchy of a great metro- 
polis. The authorities of the Academical body had, practically, 
no competitors but the authorities of the City, which received 
its first charter just before the first official recognition of the 
Oxford clerks as a privileged society, under the special protec- 
tion of the Pope. This was occasioned by a murderous out- 
rage of the townspeople on the students, which occurred in 
1209. Five years later the Papal Legate, in relieving the City 
from an interdict — the penalty of this outrage — placed the 
scholars expressly under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of 
Lincoln, or the Archdeacon, or his official, or the Chancellor 
set over them by the Bishop of Lincoln. It is probable, how- 
ever, that even then, and certain that soon afterwards, the 
Chancellor was not a mere episcopal officer, but elected by the 
scholars, though confirmed by the Bishop. Finally, in 1244, 
a Eoyal decree invested the Chancellor of the University with 
a substantive jurisdiction, not derived from the Bishop, and 
not subject to civil tribunals. This decree has been justly 
called the Magna Charta of the University ; but as the Great 
Charter itself purported to define and extend rights already 
existing, so the Chancellor and scholars of the University are 
here treated as a corporate and self-governing body, which 

A A 


already enjoyed important franchises under previous Ordin- 
ances of the Crown. 

The famous University thus developed, by stages no longer 
to be traced by the historian, out of schools as humble 
as those which languished under the shadow of many a 
cathedral, was destined to fill a larger space in the mediaeval 
history of England than any corporation, except only the City 
of London. And yet, at first sight, the seed once sown by 
unknown hands in the little town of Oxford might seem to 
have been favoured by no special advantages of soil or climate. 
But the earlier annals of that town may help us to under- 
stand why it became the home of a great University, while the 
schools of Canterbury, Winchester, and Peterborough fell into 
decay and oblivion. In the wars of the Saxon Heptarchy, and 
still more in the long struggle with the Danes, its situation, 
on the great border-stream of Wessex and Mercia, had given 
it a high degree of strategical importance. There were held 
three National Councils, at least, of the highest interest ; there 
were enacted sundry tragical scenes of the Danish invasion ; 
there English law was solemnly accepted under the Danish 
king, Canute ; and there Danish law was adopted once more 
in the year before the Conquest. There had resided Edmund 
Ironside, Canute, and Harold Harefoot, who actually died in 
the City ; while Edward the Confessor was born in the neigh- 
bouring village of Islip. There was erected a castle to 
command the passage of the river by Eobert D'Oilgi, one of 
the Conqueror's barons ; and there a country palace, called 
Beaumont, was built for Henry I., with a bowling-green and 
gardens, which became a favourite resort of the earlier 
Norman kings. A hunting-seat and park, serving the purpose 
of a menagerie, had already been established at Woodstock, 
and the surrounding country, then covered with forest, was 
a paradise for Norman sportsmen. Council after Council was 
held at Oxford in the twelfth century ; its Castle is memorable 
for the winter siege conducted by Stephen and the romantic 
escape of the Empress Maud ; Henry II. lived much at 
Woodstock and Beaumont, and granted the citizens of Oxford 


a charter which placed it in a position second only to that of 
London ; Richard I., himself born at Beaumont, enlarged 
this charter just before going on the Crusade ; John, born 
at Woodstock, often visited Oxford, and summoned National 
Assemblies to meet there on several great occasions. The City 
of Oxford figures in many leading events of Henry III. 'a 
reign, and that unfortunate king seems to have shown more 
wisdom in his frequent regulations of University matters 
than he did in his government of England. Such facts as 
these alone go far to explain the influences under which the 
obscure Schools of Oxford expanded into an University. In 
days when there was no real capital of England, and when 
the governing power was practically lodged in the hands of 
the King and his Council, wherever they might be assembled, 
the attractions of Oxford to ambitious students must have 
quite eclipsed those of older and wealthier towns seldom 
honoured by the presence of a Court. 

But there can be no doubt that Oxford also owed much to 
its geographical position, which rendered it not only a natural 
stronghold, but a place easily accessible by water or road from 
the more populous districts of central, southern, and western 
England. In this respect, neither Bristol nor any one of the 
great cathedral towns in these districts could bear comparison 
with it ; and if Cambridge gradually became a worthy rival, 
it was partly by virtue of like advantages over great com- 
mercial and ecclesiastical centres of the eastern counties, such 
as Norwich or Lincoln. The very reasons which had origin- 
ally made Oxford a resort of kings, a mustering-place of 
armies, and a meeting-place of National Councils, continued 
to operate for the benefit of its Schools, until they claimed 
the guardianship of the Pope, and earned the respect of 
Western Christendom. The disorders which befel the Uni- 
versity of Paris in 1229, and caused its temporary dispersion, 
largely contributed to strengthen the ascendancy of Oxford. 
Henry HI., skilfully profiting by this misfortune, encouraged 
a migration to England, and succeeded in inducing several 
French teachers of eminence, with many of their scholars, to 

A A 2 


settle in the new English University. But it would be unjust 
not to acknowledge the debt of the University to monastic 
Orders in its infancy, and, still more, to the Friars in the next 
stage of its development. Without the shelter provided by 
religious houses, the best class of its earliest students might 
never have sought education there. Without the motive 
power supplied by the educational zeal of the Friars, its 
intellectual life would certainly have been much feebler in the 
thirteenth century — especially during that interval between 
the death of Eobert Grostete, the great reforming Bishop of 
Lincoln, and the rise of Colleges, dating from the foundation 
of Merton in 1274. It was the Dominicans who first en- 
listed the Aristotelian philosophy in the service of the Church ; 
it was the Franciscans who adopted, if they did not pro- 
duce, the two greatest leaders of Oxford thought in the 
thirteenth century — Eoger Bacon and Eobert Grostete. 
When the College system was initiated by Walter de 
Merton, the University system was fully organised, and 
the convents, as well as the Halls, were full of eager students. 
What the Colleges provided was, not so much new aids 
or incentives to study, as a tranquil retreat for adult 
scholars, and the discipline of a well-regulated home for the 
boys who then formed so large a part of the Academical 

This is a feature of the mediaeval University which is 
seldom adequately realised. Oxford was then, not only the 
chief training-school of the more learned clerks destined for 
the secular priesthood ; it was also the great high-school of 
half the country. Thousands of schoolboys were learning 
grammar there, while their seniors were being exercised in 
logical disputations before and after attaining the Bachelor's 
degree, and a much smaller number of Masters were engaged 
in scholastic or scientific research. Even the average age of 
the University and College lecturers was probably much lower 
than it now is, and the governing, as well as the teaching 
power, was mainly vested in the so-called Eegents, or junior 
Masters of Arts. But the Academical society of that age. 


consisting so largely of very young men, was, for another 
reason, thoroughly democratic. The nobility and country- 
gentry were mostly engrossed by warlike pursuits, and the 
young squire was trained in castles rather than in College 
lecture-rooms. The richer burghers and higher trading- 
classes troubled themselves about learning as little as the 
barons and their retainers. It was the lower-middle class in 
town and country, and even the peasantry, from which 
Oxford students were chiefly drawn ; and, like the Maynooth 
students of our own time, they retained in an intensified 
form the prejudices of their ancestry. Latin was the only 
literary tongue, and no one could properly keep the accounts 
of a petty manor without a certain knowledge of it, which 
could be acquired most readily at the University. Many of 
those who came there in search of such humble professional 
qualifications, actually begged their way to Oxford, and all the 
evidence to be derived from University and College records 
proves conclusively that the common herd of students, inmates 
of Halls and inns and lodging houses, lived in a state of great 
poverty. Crowded together in miserable sleeping-rooms and 
lecture-rooms, often rendering more or less menial services 
in return for their instruction, and sometimes rescued from 
insolvency by loans from the University chest, they knew 
nothing of domestic care or comfort, and were strangers to all 
those frank and generous relations which naturally spring up 
among young Enghshmen, especially of gentle birth, in the 
kindly intercourse of modern College life. 

And here I will venture to borrow a passage from my own 
History of the University : 

Under such conditions, and in such a society, it was utterly 
impossible that education or learning could flourish generally, 
according to our modern ideas ; and yet it is certain that a restless 
and even feverish activity of speculation prevailed witliin an inner 
circle of philosophical spirits, to which there are few parallels in the 
history of thought. If their treasury of knowledge was scanty in 
the extreme, yet the range of their studies was truly sublime, both 
in its aims and in its orbit. In the chilly squalor of uncarpeted 


and unwarmed chambers, by the light of narrow and unglazed 
casements, or the gleam of flickering oil-lamps, poring over dusky 
manuscripts hardly to be deciphered by modern eyesight, undisturbed 
by the boisterous din of riot and revelry without, men of humble 
birth, and dependent on charity for bare subsistence, but with a 
noble self-confidence transcending that of Bacon or of Newton, 
tliought out and copied out those subtle masterpieces of mediseval 
lore purporting to unveil the hidden laws of Nature as well as the 
dark counsels of Providence and the secrets of human destiny, 
which — frivolous and baseless as they may appear under the scrutiny 
of a later criticism — must still be ranked among the grandest 
achievements of speculative reason. We must remember that 
archery and other outdoor sports were then mostly in the nature of 
martial exercises, reserved for the warlike classes, while music and 
the fine arts were all but unknown, and the sedentary labour of the 
student was relieved neither by the athletic nor by the ffisthetic 
pastimes of our own more favoured age. Thus, driven inward upon 
itself, the fire of intellectual ambition burned with a tenfold intensity, 
and it was tempered by no such humility as the infinite range of 
modem science imposes on the boldest of its disciples. In many a 
nightly vigil, and in many a lonely ramble over the wild hillsides 
beyond Cowley and Hincksey, or along the riversides between 
Godstow and Iffley, these pioneers of philosophical research, to 
whom alchemy was chemistry, and astronomy but the key to 
astrology, constantly pursued their hopeless quest of Wisdom as it 
was dimly conceived by the patriarch Job, pressing Aristotle into 
the service of medisval theology — which they regarded as the science 
of sciences — and inventing a mysterious phraseology which to us 
has lost its meaning, but which they mistook for solid knowledge, 
fondly imagining that it might lead them upward to some primary 
law governing the whole realm of matter and of mind. They 
failed, indeed, because success was hopeless ; but their very failure 
paved the way for the ' new knowledge ' of the next century, and 
cleared the ground for the methods and discoveries which have 
made other names immortal. 

It is no less certain that, while it was regarded by Popes 
and Bishops as an integral part of the vast Church-system — 
schola sccimda ecdesice — the niediseval L'niversitj' maintained 
throughout an attitude of iH'oud iiidei^endence towards eccle- 
aiastical superiors. That august sacerdotal power, armed 


with the terrors of the unseen world, before which princes 
and nobles were often forced to bow, treated Oxford University 
less as a dutiful handmaid than as a potent ally. One of the 
earliest events in its annals is the interdict imposed, in 1238, 
by the Papal Legate, Otho, upon the clerks of Oxford, in 
consequence of an outrage committed upon him by some 
disorderly students ; and in this case the cause of the University 
was stoutly maintained against him by Eobert Grostete and 
other English Bishops. In 1254 Innocent IV. exempted the 
masters and scholars from vexatious appeals to Papal juris- 
diction. About the same time, both the Archbishop of 
Canterbury and the King himself invited the judgment of the 
University on controversies between themselves and certain 
Bishops ; while in 1257 the liberties of the University were 
defended before the King at St. Albans against its own para- 
mount superior, the Bishop of Lincoln. In the beginning of 
the next century, Oxford signalised itself by vigorous protests 
against the spiritual despotism of the Papacy, already dis- 
credited by its subjection to French influence at Avignon. 
Soon afterwards the University triumphed, after along struggle, 
over the non-resident Cardinal Archdeacon De Mota, who had 
assimied to exercise jurisdiction through local agents. The 
Cardinal invoked the authority of the Pope ; the University 
was supported effectively by Edward II. and Edward III. 
Finally, in 1368, a Bull of Pope Urban solemnly ratified the 
right of the University to elect its own Chancellor, without 
seeking the confirmation of its diocesan, the Bishop of Lincoln. 
Meanwhile, the University had been engaged for a whole 
century in vigorously combating the encroachments of the 
Mendicant Orders, the Dominicans and Franciscans, who not 
only succeeded in diverting pupils fi-om the Academical Schools 
into their own more commodious lecture-rooms, but claimed 
for their theological students the privilege of exemption from 
regular exercises in Arts. So far back as 1253, the Oxford 
Masters of Arts had defeated these pretensions, which had 
been partially sanctioned by the University of Paris ; but the 
practice of seducing young students into taking religious vows 


seems to have continued until it was decisively checked by an 
University statute of Edward III.'s reign. The Pope vainly 
interfered on behalf of the regular clergy, who, however, 
succeeded in inducing Parliament to annul the obnoxious 
statute. But Parliament also annulled any Papal Bulls to be 
procured by the Friars which might prejudice the rights of 
the University, and Edward III. issued a Koyal order that the 
Chancellor of Oxford should not be summoned to appear 
before the Eoman Court. 

The place of the University in English history during the 
Middle Ages must, of course, be mainly determined by its 
intellectual influence, for with State affairs, as then under- 
stood, it had no concern whatever. The extent of its 
influence on the intellectual life of the nation may be 
measured by the part that it played at three great epochs — 
the age of the Schoolmen, the age of Wyclif, and the age of 
the Eenaissance. 

In his brilliant description of the Scholastic Philosophy, 
Dean Milman points out that two out of the five greatest 
Schoolmen were Englishmen, and both of these are claimed 
by the University of Oxford. It cannot, indeed, be proved 
with absolute certainty that either of these — Duns Scotus, or 
William of Ockham — was actually educated at Oxford. The 
evidence of the former having been a Fellow of Merton is 
not conclusive, and the records of that College do not support 
the statement, long received as indubitable, that Ockham, too, 
was among its early Fellows. But that Oxford was the chief 
stronghold of Scholasticism in England, and the chief battle- 
ground of the famous but utterly futile controversy between 
the Nominalists and Eealists, admits of no doubt at all. 
Several writers of the highest eminence in the second rank 
of Schoolmen are known to have studied or lectured there. 
One of these, Alexander de Hales, belongs to the age before 
the rise of Colleges. Two others — Walter Burley, who earned 
the enviable title of Doctor Planus, or Perspicuus, and Thomas 
Bradwardine, Archbishop of Canterbury — were certainly 
Fellows of Merton, to whose members Bradwardine expressly 


dedicates his great treatise, ' De Causa Dei.' Mediaeval Theo- 
logy may almost be said to have ultimately formulated itself 
iu the Schools of Oxford, which eclipsed even those of Paris 
in the fourteenth century ; and the boldness of speculation 
there encouraged made itself sensibly felt, not only in the 
doctrinal teaching of English Churchmen, but in the resolute 
stand made by the English Church against the pretensions of 
the Holy See. But the Oxford of the Schoolmen also pro- 
duced a scholar and philosopher of no merely scholastic order, 
whose fame now towers above that of all his philosophical 
contemporaries. While the Franciscan School at Oxford was 
earning an European reputation in Theology and scholastic 
lore under the great Friar, Adam Marsh, Eoger Bacon, him- 
self a Franciscan, was anticipating modern scholarship by 
his superiority to learned dogmatism, and modern science 
by his independent researches in astronomy and optics, 
mechanics and chemistry. The spirit represented and 
kindled at Oxford by Eoger Bacon never wholly died out 
there until it was quickened into new life by the Kenaissance 
and the Eeformation. A large number of advanced students in 
the University are known to have prosecuted lifelong studies 
in mathematics and physics during the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries, and the ancient library of Merton College alone 
contained numerous manuscripts on these subjects written or 
presented by resident Fellows. The wholesale destruction of 
such manuscripts, as well as of those relating to school- 
divinity, in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., has 
made it impossible to estimate the full extent and nature of 
the knowledge attained by Oxford men of science in the 
Middle Ages. Doubtless it yielded few direct fruits in the 
shape of discoveries or inventions, but it cannot have been 
wholly barren in its effect on the Academical mind ; and the 
eminently liberal tone of English thought, even before the 
Eenaissance, may probably have been due, in some degree, 
to Eoger Bacon and his almost forgotten successors. 

But, of all the English Schoolmen, the one whose career 
most properly belongs to the history of Oxford is the last 


and most illustrious of them all — John Wyclif, ' the Evangelical 
Doctor' of the fourteenth century. Three Colleges have 
claimed the honour of enrolling this remarkable man among 
their alumni, and not without historical warrant. It is highly 
probable that he was a Fellow of Merton, and certain that he 
was at one time Master of Balliol, at another, an inmate, 
though not a member, of Queen's ; whUe there is at least good 
reason to believe that he was the first Warden of Canterbury 
College, since absorbed into Christ Church. It is known that 
he also held various benefices in the country. But the chief 
work of his life was carried on at Oxford, where he formed a 
School of his own, and was held in the highest honour. There 
his notable sermons were preached, and there his marvellous 
skill in disputation was matured. Thence he was summoned, 
in 1377, to appear before the Convocation of Canterbury, and 
there, under a Papal Bull issued soon afterwards, he was to be 
cited to appear before the Pope himself within three months. 
In another Bull of the same date, Gregory XI. severely 
reproved the University for harbouring Lollards in its bosom, 
and enjoined that John Wyclif and his adherents should be 
handed over to Archbishop Sudbury and Bishop Courtenay. 
Loud protests were made against this demand in the Oxford 
Convocation, which, after all, forbore to pass a formal con- 
demnation of Wyclif's teaching. It was in Oxford that he 
organised and located his new Order of itinerant preachers, and 
it was in the Schools of Oxford that he propounded (in 1381) 
his twelve ' conclusions,' or theses, on the Eucharist, which drew 
down upon him, not only the official censure of the Chancellor, 
supported by ten Doctors of Divinity, but also the hostility 
of the Mendicant Friars, who had formerly been his allies. 
The next Chancellor, however, was a friend of Wyclif, and 
when a Committee or Council of Divines, assembled by the 
new Archbishop (Courtenay), despatched to Oxford a mandate 
for the extirpation of Lollard doctrines, their emissary, Stokes> 
found the leading dignitaries of the University arrayed 
against him, with the hearty concurrence of a majority among 
the Masters of Arts. The Chancellor, indeed, replied that 


comj^Iiance with the mandate was as much as his hfe was 
worth ; and though he, with other followers of WycHf, was 
at last compelled to submit by the intervention of the King's 
Council, Lollardism died hard, if it died at all, in the 
University. Though a Convocation of the Province of Canter- 
bury, held at Oxford in 1382, succeeded in silencing its 
sjjokesmen for a while, and Wyclif's failing health apparently 
disabled him thenceforth from active controversy, Oxford, as 
Mr. Maxwell Lyte points out, ' continued to be the headquarters 
of the reforming movement.' Writ after writ was addressed 
to its authorities, urging them to suppress Lollard treatises, 
and eleven years after Wyclif's death the Chancellor of the 
University was ordered by the King, it would seem in vain, 
to have a catalogue of hie errors drawn up by the Doctors of 
Divinity, with a view of banishing all who should maintain 
them. At last Parliament, false to its ancient traditions, was 
enlisted on the side of persecution. The infamous statutes 
passed against heretics in the reign of Henry IV. had, pro- 
bably, quite as much effect in putting down Lollardism in the 
University as the despotic censorship of books and lectures 
established by Archbishop Arundel and a provincial Council 
held for this purpose at Oxford in 1409. At all events, in 
1409 the obnoxious works of Wyclif, under the strongest 
pressure from Lambeth, were publicly burned at Carfax, in 
the centre of Oxford, and in 1411 the most stringent decrees 
against all who should embrace his tenets were extorted from 
the University, which had never ceased to be proud of him. 
If ever there was a typical representative of Oxford, it was 
John Wyclif, and his truly heroic figure, viewed across an 
interval of five centuries, assumes proportions of which 
neither his disciples nor his enemies could then form any 
true conception. 

The part played by the University of Oxford in the Revival 
of Letters was scarcely less important than it had been in the 
Keform movement of Wyclif, which had assuredly paved the 
way for it. Dean Colet, Erasmus, and Sir Thomas More 
have been singled out as prominently ' The Oxford Reformers ' 


of the Eenaissance ; but the title is equally deserved by Grocyn 
and Linacre, if not by Archbishop Warham, and, still more, by 
Cardinal Wolsey. The rise of the New Learning, as it was 
then called, is generally dated from the capture of Constanti- 
nople in 1453, and the light of its dawning certainly spread 
to England from Italy. Thither Linacre, a young Fellow of 
All Souls, went out as early as 1485 ; and there he was joined, 
in 1488, by Grocyn, who had probably been his instructor at 
the University, and who is described by Erasmus as the first 
of English scholars. Not that he, or any one single individual, 
can be regarded as the solitary pioneer in England of that 
unique literary revolution which brought to a close the history 
of mediaeval civilisation. No doubt, the foundation of great 
public grammar-schools like Winchester and Eton helped to 
prepare the minds of English scholars for the reception of 
Greek culture. Moreover, Professor Montagu Burrows, in his 
interesting Memoir of William Grocyn, has adduced strong 
reasons for believing that he owed much to the instruction of 
Vitelli, an ItaUan lecturer already settled at Oxford, and some- 
thing to Chaundler, Warden of New College, who seems to have 
been Vitelli's patron. But there is conclusive evidence that 
Grocyn was justly regarded by his contemporaries as the English 
patriarch of the New Learning. It is possible that he taught . 
Greek at Oxford before his visit to Italy ; it is certain that, 
having studied at Florence under the famous teachers Politian 
and Chalcondyles, he returned to Oxford, and delivered at 
Exeter College the first public lectures in Greek that had 
been heard in England. Nor was he a mere ' Humanist,' or 
votary of Pagan literature. On the contrary, he warmly 
encouraged Aldus's designs for publishing new editions of the 
Scriptures in the original languages, and, if Erasmus can be 
trusted, was ' exceedingly observant of ecclesiastical rules, 
almost to the point of superstition.' 

About four years after the return of Grocyn and Linacre, 
Colet, who had taken his degree at Oxford, and then held a 
living in Suffolk, proceeded on a like errand to Italy. His 
interests were theological rather than literary, and it is pro- 


bable that he came under the influence of Savonarola at 
Florence ; but his studies embraced the New Learning in all 
its branches, and when he announced a course of public 
lectures on St. Paul's Epistles at Oxford, about the end of 1496, 
he was fully- equipped for the contest that awaited him against 
the old Scholastic Philosophy. These lectures were attended, 
not only by large audiences of students, but also by doctors 
and abbots. They were, in fact, the earliest essays in that 
Biblical criticism which formed a most important element in 
the ' New Learning,' as propagated in England — so unlike the 
brilliant semi-Pagan reaction typified by the Greek and 
Italian Eenaissance. A year or two later, Colet was joined in 
Oxford by Erasmus, himself an organic link between the 
Eenaissance and the Reformation, who came to complete his 
study of the Greek language. Though Erasmus's stay in 
Oxford was short, his own letters conclusively prove how much 
he owed to his intercourse with the little circle of Oxford 
friends, which embraced also Sir Thomas More, who had then 
left the University, and was studying law in London. It is 
true that More's legal and political career had no direct con- 
nection with his University life ; that Erasmus's greatest works 
were produced on the Continent or at Cambridge ; that 
Linacre's vast acquirements were chiefly displayed in London, 
where he founded the College of Physicians ; that Colet is 
better known as Dean of St. Paul's, founder of St. Paul's 
School, and the first preacher of his day, than as an inter- 
preter of St. Paul's Epistles at Oxford. But it is equally 
true that in the minds and hearts of all these men the sacred 
flame of a new intellectual Gospel and the noble ambition of 
propagating it among their countrymen was conceived and 
even nursed into maturity within the University. 

Their influence made itself sensibly felt on their Oxford 
contemporaries and juniors. Lilly, the first of Enghsh 
grammarians, was practically a disciple of Colet, and- not only 
Colet, but Erasmus and Cardinal Wolsey, co-operated with him 
in the compilation of his Grammar. Tyndall, whose name is 
second to none among the English Reformers, is stated by 


John Foxe to have been ' brought up from a child in the 
University of Oxford, where he, by long continuance, grew up 
and increased, as well in the knowledge of tongues and other 
liberal arts as specially in the knowledge of the Scriptures.' Yet 
Tyndall loudly protested against the perfunctory nature of 
University studies in his own time, against the arbitrary 
restrictions on the free interpretation of Scripture, and against 
the scandalous ease with which degrees were granted. Wolsey 
himself, who must never be forgotten as a zealous promoter 
of the Renaissance in England, had graduated at Magdalen 
College before the Oxford Reformers had commenced their 
labours. But he was among the first to appreciate the signi- 
ficance of the classical revival, and to the last never ceased to 
be its most discerning as well as its most generous patron. It 
must have been with his sanction, though it was at More's 
instance, that a peremptory Eoyal order put down the barbarous 
faction of so-called Trojans, who actually endeavoured to 
suppress Greek studies in the University. His favourite pro- 
ject for the foundation of Christ Church, as a propaganda of 
' the new learning in the service of the old Church,' had 
been partly forestalled by Bishop Fox in his foundation of 
Corpus Christi College. But Wolsey's design was on a scale of 
grandeur before unknown, and the policy of applying monastic 
endowments to educational purposes was originated by him, 
though reversed by the rapacity of Henry VHI. and his 

But the place of Oxford University in English and Euro- 
pean history during the later Middle Ages is not to be deter- 
mined solely by its contributions to learning and Theology. 
Its influence is strongly attested, not only by the frequent 
intervention of English kings in its internal affairs, but also 
by its relations with the Papal See. We have seen how 
vigorous was the action taken by the Pope in the suppression 
of Wyclif's adherents at Oxford. On the other hand, the 
University had no mean share in the termination of the great 
schism then undermining the Church, and was consulted more 
than once by the Crown on that subject. When a Provincial 


Synod was held in London to consider the conduct of Gregory 
XII., the Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge were present 
in person. No doubt the University of Paris assumed the 
lead in the long negotiations for restoring the unity of the 
Latin Church; yet the University of Oxford steadily and 
successfully resisted the scheme of settlement proposed by its 
elder sister, insisting that a General Council must be sum- 
moned. This General Council, which met at Pisa in 1409, 
deposed both the rival Popes, and procured the election of a 
Friar known as Alexander V., who had taken a Bachelor of 
Divinity's degree at Oxford ; being the only Pope who ever did 
so. The Bishop of Salisbury, the head of an English deputa- 
tion to Pisa, had been Chancellor of Oxford, and received 
instructions from the University for the protest which he 
there deUvered against the abuses of the Church. Before the 
Council of Constance, held in 1414, the University of Oxford 
drew up an elaborate series of articles for the reformation of 
the Church. At that Council, which established the supre- 
macy of General Councils over the Papacy, the University 
was ably represented ; and Henry of Abingdon, afterwards 
Warden of Merton, produced a great impression by his sermon 
advocating the views embodied in those articles. The Univer- 
sity was specially invited to appear by its delegates at the 
Council of Basle, in 1431 ; and though it was reduced by 
poverty to solicit contributions towards the expenses of the 
mission, it found a worthy representative in John Kemp, after- 
wards Archbishop of Canterbury. On two subsequent occasions 
it received marks of special respect from Popes Eugenius IV. 
and Innocent VIII. Probably, if the archives of the Lateran 
and the Vatican had been preserved intact, and could now be 
ransacked by an Academical historian, the Universities of 
Europe, and, not least, the University of Oxford, would be 
found to have engaged the attention of the Papal Court to a 
far greater extent than is commonly realised. In the mean- 
time, enough evidence remains to show that, within the 
ecclesiastical sphere at least, it was a power to be conciliated 
as well as to be controlled. 


The close of the fifteenth century, so momentous in the 
annals of European civilisation, wrought an insensible but 
irrevocable change in the position and character of Oxford Uni- 
versity. The Eevival of Learning had checked the degeneracy 
which set in with the decay of scholastic exercises during 
the previous half-century, but the marvellous series of events 
which followed it, dividing mediaeval from modern history, 
was destined to have a contrary effect. The diffusion of know- 
ledge through the invention of printing, aided by the improve- 
ment in paper-making ; the burst of commercial enterprise 
consequent on the discovery of America and of a maritime 
route to India ; the" revolt against Church authority and 
clerical ascendancy, which underlay the Eeformation — these 
were causes which could not but diminish the unique prestige 
of the Universities. Though Oxford is said to have been the 
first place at which movable types were employed in England, 
and though books were certainly printed there between 1479 
and 1486, the Press was sure to prove a most formidable 
rival of the Oxford Schools. When the only books were 
manuscripts, the Universities and the very few other institu- 
tions which possessed large collections of manuscripts 
attracted the whole literary class from all parts of the country. 
When instruction in the sciences was only to be obtained from 
the lips of a living teacher, and when schools hardly existed 
elsewhere, except in connection with cathedrals or monasteries, 
the lecture-rooms of Oxford were thronged with students of 
all ages, and represented, with those of Cambridge, the 
central machinery of national education. When the Church 
ruled supreme over the wide realm of thought, and learning 
was the monopoly of ' clerics,' the great ecclesiastical strong- 
hold of Oxford far surpassed the Metropolis itself as an 
intellectual centre. When Latin was the one language of 
scholars, and English literature hardly existed, the Academical 
masters of Latinity, especially as they were carefully trained in 
disputation, maintained a peerless supremacy over their less 
favoured competitors in the clerical, medical, and legal pro- 
fessions. When foreign trade was confined within mediaeval 



channels, and the mercantile aristocracy had not yet developed 
its strength, the clerks of Oxford held a social position far 
above that to which their birth or wealth entitled them. In 
the new order which took its bu'th from the Reformation, the 
exclusive privileges of the Universities became inevitably 
depreciated, and their function in the body-politic somewhat 
humbler than it had been in the golden age of clerical 
ascendancy. But they did not cease to form an organic and 
energetic part of the national life. When the curtain fell on 
the vast drama of the Middle Ages, transforming almost every 
mediaeval institution in Church and State, the University of 
Oxford re-a2ipeared in a more secular character, to claim 
henceforth a less commanding, but not less distinctive, posi- 
tion in English history. 


With the fall of Cardinal Wolsey — one of the greatest land- 
marks in our history — the University of Oxford entered on a 
new phase of its existence. Henceforth, its political and 
social importance were to increase, and a more conspicuous 
place was to be reserved for it in those spheres of national 
life which fill the pages of historians. But it was to lose that 
' original brightness ' which it derived from being a part, 
though a very indei^endent part, of the vast fabric of the 
mediaeval Church. Instead of attracting humble pilgrims 
from the lowest ranks of society, converting them into ' clerks,' 
and qualifying them to fill places more or less honourable in 
the great ecclesiastical hierarchj', it became more and more 
a training-school for the lay professions, now definitely 
formed. It was no longer to share with Cambridge, and one 
or two public schools, an almost exclusive monopoly of 
English education, from the highest realms of philosophical 
speculation to the simj^lest rudiments of grammar. It was 
no longer to be the schola secunda ecclesice in Europe ; and 
the intellectual centre of gravity in England itself was 
inevitably to be shifted to the commercial and political centre 

B B 


of the kingdom, in the MetropoKs. In the ampler and 
brighter day now dawning upon the nation, tlie light of 
scholastic learning, so long kept alive at Oxford, could not 
fail to wax pale and dim. In becoming secularised, the 
University forfeited that transcendent prestige which it owed 
to Church authority ; but it was to be used as a powerful 
engine of State-authority in working out the various stages of 
the English Eeformation, and perhaps to exercise a more 
potent influence in moulding the national character. 

The first occasion on which the University came into 
contact with the new statecraft of Henry VIII. was that of 
his famous appeal to the chief Universities of Europe on the 
legality of his intended divorce. This expedient is supposed 
to have been contemplated by him in 1527, but to have been 
abandoned by reason of discouraging reports from Oxford 
and Cambridge. However this may be, the question was 
formally laid before the Oxford Convention in 1529, not 
without a significant mixture of Eoyal promises and threats. 
Nevertheless, though a docile majority of seniors was in 
favour of compliance, the younger Masters of Arts — worthy 
successors of those who had supported Wychf — stood firm in 
their refusal. It was not until two other Eoyal commands 
had been received, and the Graduates in Arts had been 
excluded from Convocation by a clever stratagem, that the 
desired vote was secured ; not, however, in the full Convocation 
of the University, but in a packed committee, empowered to 
act in its name. Soon afterwards the King gave a fresh 
proof of his anxiety to keep the University under his control, 
by coming to visit it in person. The Plantagenet sovereigns, 
as we have seen, had often held their Courts at Oxford, and 
the same compliment was paid to it by Edward IV. and 
Eichard III. But the visit of Henry VIII. was essentially 
political, and his example was followed by every one of his 
successors, except Edward VI. and Mary, down to the reign 
of George I. It is significant of his motives that, on this 
occasion, he took back into his own hands the Charter of the 
University, which he did not restore until 1543. 


Meamvhile, in 1534, the University was again invited to 
pronounce a solemn verdict, no longer upon a question of 
private right, but upon the gravest issue of national policy 
ever submitted to its judgment — that of the Eoyal Supremacy. 
This was, in truth, a foregone conclusion, and the University 
was not disloyal to its traditional principles in casting off the 
Papal yoke, which it had always borne impatiently, and 
which had been deliberately repudiated earlier in the year by 
the Convocations of both Pi-ovinces, after several preparatory 
measures had been passed in succession. Accordingly, in 
common with these bodies and the University of Cambridge, 
it declared that ' The Bishop of Eome hath no greater juris- 
diction conferred on him by God in this kingdom of England 
than any other foreign Bishop.' By this time Protestant 
doctrines, propagated by some of the scholars imported from 
Cambridge and the Continent, had taken root in Oxford soil. 
So far back as 1527, Cardinal Wolsey, tolerant as he was, had 
thought it necessary to issue a Commission for the discovery 
of heretical books in the University, and Garrett, who had 
disseminated them, was compelled to fly. The King himself 
was alarmed, and made vigorous efforts to put down free 
thinking among the students. Several years were to elapse 
before the sjHrit of Wyclif should be allowed free scope in 
Oxford ; but it was now thought prudent to secure both 
Universities against the danger of reaction towards Rome by 
an Act, passed in 1536, which required every candidate for a 
degree to abjure allegiance to the Pope. 

The determination of Henry VIII. to place the new Church 
order on a sure footing at Oxford was further shown by 
Thomas Cromwell's Visitation in 1535 — the first of several 
Visitations whereby his successors, and the leaders of the 
Commonwealth, sought to regulate the Universities, as the 
great fountain-heads of education, into harmony with the 
principles adopted by the Government of the day. This 
Visitation, or Commission, as we should call it, of which Dr. 
Leighton was the most prominent member, had a twofold 
object — to ensure ecclesiastical conformity, and to promote 

B B 2 


classical learning at the expense of the old scholastic discipline, 
which had revived since the Eenaissance. The study of the 
Canon Law was suppressed, and Leighton joyfully reported that 
' Dunce ' (Duns Scotus) was relegated to an Academical limbo ; 
while the leaves of scholastic manuscripts, torn up by whole- 
sale, might be seen fluttering about New College quadrangle. 
But the study of Aristotle was enjoined, together with that of 
the Holy Scriptures — an interesting survival of the strange 
alliance between Aristotelian logic and Christian theology 
framed by the Dopiinican teachers of the Middle Ages. 
Meanwhile, Cardinal Wolsey's great foundation was remodelled, 
on a reduced scale, into the modern Christ Church ; new 
classical lectureships were established at the expense of the 
richer colleges, and the five Eegius Professorships were en- 
dowed out of the spoils of the Church. Moreover, the loyalty 
of the University was rewarded by a special exemption from 
the payment of firstfruits, or tenths, recently granted by 
statute to the Crown. 

The respect of the King for the University, and his desire 
to retain it as a trustworthy instrument of his dynastic aims 
and ecclesiastical policy, was displayed in a signal manner 
after the dissolution of monasteries. Monks and friars were 
regarded as the bodyguard of a foreign power, which had 
become the enemy of the Monarchy, and thdugh a formidable 
insurrection was provoked by Cromw-ell's barbarous treatment 
of them, it is marvellous how little popular support they com- 
manded in their hour of need. On the other hand, the Colleges 
had long been identified with the secular clergy : they had 
sided with the Crown and Parliament in resisting the en- 
croachments of Eome ; they had come to rank among national 
institutions, and they had cheerfully accepted the Koyal 
Supremacy. The famous reply of Henry VIII. to some of his 
courtiers, who clamoured for a Dissolution of Colleges, was, 
therefore, a genuine expression of the sentiment which he 
shared with the nation, and might, perhaps, be studied with 
advantage by modern reformers of the utilitarian school. 
' Whereas we had a regard oulie to pull down sin by defacing 


the monasteries, you have a desire also to overthrow all good- 
ness by subversion of Colleges. I tell you, Sirs, that I judge 
no land in England better bestowed than that which is given 
to our Universities. For by their maintenance our realme 
shall be well governed when we be dead and rotten. I love 
not learning so ill that I will impair the revenewes of any one 
House by a penie, whereby it may be upholden.' Neverthe- 
less, the general sense of insecurity produced by the King's 
despotic rule, and the arbitrary restrictions imposed on Pro- 
testantism by the Six Articles, could not but have a blighting 
effect on the University system. Nor did the dissolution of 
monasteries bring to it any accession of strength. Almost 
every great monastery had maintained scholars at Oxford or 
Cambridge by means of exhibitions, if not in lodgings under 
its own control. These were now cast adrift, and there is good 
reason for believing that some of them contributed to swell the 
vast crowd of sturdy vagrants against whom savage enact- 
ments were passed by obsequious Parliaments in the latter 
part of Henry VIII.'s reign. The disappearance of Oseney 
Abbey, Eewley Abbey, and the great churches of the 
Dominicans, Franciscans, and Bernardines, left Oxford all 
the poorer architecturally, and the new studies failed to 
attract such multitudes of eager students as -those which, in 
earlier times, had thronged the lecture-rooms of famous 
logicians, and engaged in bloodthirsty conflicts with the 

We may pass lightly over the next stage in the history of 
the Reformation at Oxford, because it must be confessed that, 
as compared with Cambridge, that University played a subor- 
dinate, if not undignified, part during this eventful period. 
When the Protector Somerset and Archbishop Cranmer 
determined to reform it in the interests of the new Anglican 
Church, in the reign of Edward VI., they had met with no 
effective opposition. It is probable that Huber, the German 
historian, may be right in asserting that a decided majority 
in the University, including the most learned men and the 
best scholars, was in favour of the old religion. But many of 


them fled before the Commission, or Visitation, appointed in 
1549, and, of those who remained, many were forcibly expelled 
to make room for Peter Martyr and other Protestant teachers 
imported from other universities. In dealing with Colleges, 
the spirit in which they acted was ruthlessly iconoclastic, and 
not only were the old services abolished, but altars, images, 
statues, monuments, organs, and everything else which seemed 
to savour of superstition, were defaced or swept away. The 
amount of destruction wrought by their orders, and those of 
Cromwell's Visitors, in the College libraries, will never be 
known, but it seems to have resembled, on a humbler scale, the 
losses incurred by learning in the conflagration of the Alexan- 
drine Library, or the Latin capture of Constantinoi)le. Philo- 
sophy fared no better than Natural Science, and it is 
recorded that ' cartloads ' of classical and scientific manu- 
scripts were consigned to the flames, together with many an 
illuminated masterpiece of scholastic literature. At the same 
time, new University Statutes were drawn up, remodelling 
the Faculty of Arts, and eliminating everything which could 
favour Popery from the Academical constitution. But the 
Protector Somerset refused, like Henry VIIL, to sanction any 
general disendowment of Colleges, and the Edwardine Statutes, 
as they were called, were more liberal in their spirit than 
might have been expected. Seven years later, the importance 
of manipulating the University for Imperial purposes was once 
more recognised under Queen Mary, whose accession had been 
hailed with loyal demonstrations at Oxford, not yet estranged 
from the old religion, and who afterwards showed her prefer- 
ence for Oxford over the less Catholic University of Cambridge. 
A fresh Visitation was instituted by Cardinal Pole. Peter 
Martyr and the leading Protestant lecturers now made their 
escape, Heads and Fellows of Colleges were released from their 
obligation to renounce the authority of the Pope, the Mass 
superseded the Prayer-Book, and before long Oxford became 
the scene of those Protestant martyrdoms which have left an 
indelible impression of horror and sympathy on the English 


It is often said, and not without reason, that Oxford 
burned the great Protestant divines whom Cambridge edu- 
cated. But it must not be supposed that Cranmer, Eidley 
and Latimer were actually tried and condemned by an 
University Court. It is, indeed, a remarkable proof of the 
deference paid to University opinion by Mary's advisers, not 
only that Oxford should have been selected as the place for 
the shameful travesty of justice enacted in April 1554, and 
again in September 1555, but also that the proceedings should 
have been made to include an Academical disputation in the 
Divinity School, followed by a judicial inquisition held in the 
choir of St. Mary's Church. Still, the Commission which 
sat in St. Mary's Church on April 14, 1554, under a mandate 
from the Crown, derived no authority from the University of 
Oxford, as such, but was, in effect, a Committee of the Convo- 
cation of Canterbury, with its Prolocutor, Dr. Weston, as 
President. His assessors were eight members of that Con- 
vocation, with the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, as well as of 
Oxford, and Doctors of Divinity elected by each University. 
The sentence pronounced on this occasion was one of excom- 
munication, and not of death, grave doubts being, in fact, 
entertained by Ultramontane Catholics upon the right of a 
Eoyal Commission to declare three bishops guilty of heresy. 
Accordingly, Eidley and Latimer, after a mitigated imprison- 
ment of seventeen months in private houses, were finally 
tried before Commissioners appointed under the legatine 
authority of Cardinal Pole ; while the Court which tried 
Cranmer had for its President, Brookes, the chief of these 
Commissioners, acting as sub-delegate of the Pope, with two 
proctors appointed by the Crown. But these mock trials 
were conducted, as before, in the choir of St. Mary's Church 
and the Divinity Schools ; it was in St. Mary's that Cranmer 
was subjected to the ignominy of degradation, and when 
Eidley underwent a like indignity in the house where he was 
confined, Brookes was accompanied by the Vice-Chancellor of 
the University. Finally, when Eidley and Latimer were led 
out to be burned in Canditch, a sermon was preached before 


the stake by an Academical preacher on the text, ' Though I 
give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth 
me nothing ' ; and when Cranmer was required to repeat his 
previous recantations in prospect of death, St. Mary's Church 
was again selected as the scene of his humiliation. The 
sequel is well known. It was through an University mob, and 
past the Divinity Schools of the University, that he was hurried 
off, with brutal eagerness, to give at the stake that noble 
example of heroic constancy which has atoned for all his earlier 
errors in the eyes of Protestants, and crowned the martyr- 
doms of the English Reformation. Assuredly Oxford Uni- 
versity has gained something of celebrity from the fact that 
in Oxford was lighted that candle of religious liberty which 
should never be put out ; but it cannot be forgotten that, if 
the University itself did not, and could not, pass sentence of 
death on the martyrs, it made itself an accomplice in that 
memorable deed of infamy. 

The reign of Elizabeth supplies fresh examples of the 
efforts made by the Tudor princes to conciliate and control 
the University of Oxford, as a formidable power in the body- 
politic. Within six months of her accession, she appointed a 
new body of Visitors, to make what she called ' a mild and 
gentle, not rigorous, reformation,' which, however, involved a 
strict enforcement of obedience to the Act of Supremacy. 
Though many graduates, as before, conformed readily enough, 
the Dean and two Canons of Christ Church, nine Heads of 
Colleges, and a considerable number of Fellows, were ex- 
pelled or forced to resign. Some Protestant exiles returned 
from Zurich, Strasburg, and other foreign towns; but it is 
doubtful ■whether Oxford learning gained more from this 
accession than it lost by the migration of Catholic scholars to 
Douay. At all events, we know from the impartial testimony 
of Peter Martyr and Jewell how serious an intellectual and 
moral degeneracy had resulted from such rapid vicissitudes in 
religious doctrine and ecclesiastical government, unsettling 
the minds of students, and keeping Academical rulers in a 
constant state of suspense or time-serving. It was, doubtless, 


with a view of counteracting these efifects, and reviving the 
energies of a hody on which she greatly rehed for support, 
that Queen Elizabeth paid two State visits to Oxford, in 1566 
and 1592, losing no opportunity on either occasion of rebuking 
extremists and ' precisians,' as she called them, and showing 
her resolution to have an Anglo- Catholic rather than a Puritan 
or Romanistic Church. It seems clear that a like far-sighted 
policy inspired the efforts of her favourite, Leicester, to reform 
the University, of which he became the Chancellor. Non- 
resident and courtier as he was, Leicester had the real good 
of Oxford at heart ; and, repressive as some of his measures 
were, he cannot be greatly blamed for desiring to exclude the 
Romanising party, then openly disloyal, from positions of 
influence at Oxford. We may deplore his creation of a legis- 
lative oligarchy — to curb the old democratic spirit of the 
University — and, still more, his imposition of subscription to 
the Thirty-nine Articles and the Royal Supremacy, to be 
required from every student above sixteen years old on his 
matriculation. But we cannot forget that under his Chan- 
cellorship the University first obtained a parliamentary 
incorporation, that he earned an honourable place among its 
benefactors, and that most of the regulations which he recom- 
mended were intended, and wisely conceived, for the restoration 
of sound discipline. 

This was the weak point of the Elizabethan University ; 
and it was by no means strengthened by the introduction of 
a new test. Thenceforth the University of Oxford, once open 
to all Christendom, was narrowed to an exclusively Church of 
England institution, and became the favourite arena of 
Anglican controversy, developing more and more that special 
character, at once worldly and clerical, to which it owes its 
distinctive place in later history. While its highest dignitaries 
were mostly animated by intense party-spirit, rather than by 
zeal for education, its students fully shared in the genial 
laxity of manners, fostered by increasing luxury, which marked 
the age of Elizabeth. Her judicious patronage of Oxford 
culture was not without effect upon scholars like Bodley and 


Savile, yet it may be doubted whether there was as much real 
vitahty and freedom of thought in the Protestant Oxford of 
Elizabeth, as in the Catholic Oxford of the first three Edwards. 
The number of students was increased during her reign, but 
they were recruited from a wealthier class ; there were more 
young gentlemen among them, and more of them were 
destined for lay professions or trade ; but there was a smaller 
propc rtion of hardworking scholars ; more of worldly accom- 
plishments, but less of severe and earnest study. 

It was the object of Archbishop Laud, during his long 
period of Academical ascendancy, to counteract such tenden- 
cies by a comprehensive reform of discipline, with a view of 
making Oxford once more a model school of the Church, while 
it should become a powerful bulwark of the Monarchy. James I. 
had followed the policy of the Tudors by patronising the 
Universities, visiting them in person, and taking an active 
interest in their affairs. In the year of his accession he gave 
them, for the first time, representation in Parliament, on 
the express ground that it was necessary for them to be pro- 
tected, through Burgesses of their own, against the risk of 
ignorant legislation affecting their privileges. At the same 
time, he invited the Colleges to join him in a self-denying but 
abortive scheme for re-endowing benefices out of imj^ropriated 
tithes— a scheme which Charles I., by a secret vow, but lately 
made known, bound himself to carry out if he should recover his 
throne. Soon afterwards he made over to them the right of 
presenting to all livings in Eoman Catholic patronage, and 
thrice exempted them from liability to subsidies. He enlisted 
their sup^jort in the great struggle between the ecclesiastical 
Courts and the Common Law Judges ; he secured their co- 
operation in compiling the Authorised Version of the Bible. 
But it was under the influence of Laud that he and his 
successor, Charles I., deliberately emploj'ed the University of 
Oxford as the instrument of reactionary statecraft. It was 
Laud's saying, ' Nothing can be transacted in the State with- 
out its being immediately winnowed in the Parliaments of the 
Scholars.' He was first known to the world as President of 


St. John's College, and no more perfect specimen of the 
College don, in the old sense, ever rose to fill high office in the 
State. Laud clearly i^erceived, and the King was not slow to 
recognise, the natural affinity between Arminian theories of 
Church authority and absolutist notions of Divine Right. 
His first efforts, before he became Chancellor, were therefore 
directed to check the growth of Puritanism in the University, 
and in 1616 he procured a stringent order from the King, by the 
advice of the clergy in Convocation, for the subscription of the 
Three Articles in the Thirty-sixth Canon by every candidate for 
a degree, for strict attendance on University sermons, and for 
the enforcement of other safeguards against heterodoxy. Six 
years later — in 1622— the University disgraced itself by passing 
a declaratory resolution, absolutely condemning resistance to 
a reigning sovereign, offensive or defensive, upon any pretext 
whatever. Thenceforward, the doctrine of passive obedience 
may be said to have become the official creed of Oxford for at 
least two generations, and survivals of it appeared more than 
once in the eighteenth century. 

It was in 1630 that Laud became Chancellor of Oxford, 
an office which he filled until his fall eleven years later ; so 
that his personal government of the Academical body nearly 
coincided in duration with Charles I.'s personal government 
of the kingdom. It was characteristic of his inquisitorial 
energy, but it is also a significant proof of the space occupied 
by the University in his political and ecclesiastical designs, 
that petty Academical concerns received from him the same 
minute attention as the highest interests of Church and State. 
Some of his reforms were of permanent benefit, such as the 
introduction of the Proctorial Cycle, and, still more, the com- 
pilation of the Caroline Statutes, which remained in force 
within hving memory. Other features of his administration 
betrayed his arbitrary temperament, such as his system of 
correspondence with confidential agents at Oxford, and his 
permanent establishment of a collegiate monopoly in University 
government. But there is no doubt that, in his dark and dis- 
astrous counsels, the aggrandisement of his University was 


second only to the aggrandisement of his Church, or that he 
was highly successful in promoting it. Anthony Wood tells 
us that, under his Chancellorship, the University recovered 
its popularity, numbering 4,000 students; and, though it did 
not produce so many illustrious names as Cambridge during 
the seventeenth century, the generation of Oxford men which 
preceded the Civil War included not a few whose learning 
and piety might have adorned a happier age. That was no 
ordinary circle of University friends which shared the dignified 
hospitality and studious leisure of Falkland at Great Tew, 
comprising, as it did> Sheldon and Hammond, Morley and 
Earle, as well as Chillingworth, re-converted to Anglican doc- 
trine by Laud himself. Nor was it only Churchmen whom the 
University trained under the guardianship of Laud. Among 
those who there disciplined themselves for political life during 
those golden days of respite were Sir John Eliot and John 
Hampden, John Pym, John Selden, Robert Blake, Speaker 
Lenthall, and Sir Nathaniel Brent, men who afterwards took 
a leading part on the Parliamentary side in the stormy times 
already looming on the horizon. 
^ This is not the place to review that rapid succession of 
events, ever memorable for Englishmen, which brought about 
a temporary disruption of all our national institutions, with 
an almost complete suspension of Academical life at Oxford. 
Nor must we attempt to investigate the various military 
reasons which made Oxford a place of the first strategical 
importance during the campaigns of 1642 and the three 
following years. A glance at the instructive maps in Mr. 
Gardiner's History of this period will suffice to show that it 
stood nearly at the eastern extremity of the country, which for 
the most part declared for the King; while it was virtually the 
key to the Midland Counties. It was to Oxford that Charles I. 
repaired after the battle of Edgehill, and thither he retreated 
for the winter after his abortive march on London. Thence- 
forward, until the eve of his surrender to the Scotch in 1646, 
Oxford became, not only the base of operations for the Eoyal 
army, but the chief seat of the Eoyal Government. Already, 


in 1625, when the plague was raging in London, the first Par- 
liament of Charles I. had been adjourned to Oxford, and here 
in January 1644, he again summoned a Parliament, ignor- 
ing that assembled in permanent session at Westminster. A 
small body of loyal Peers and Commoners obeyed the summons, 
and assumed to hold a regular session, during which they 
vainly strove to open negotiations with the rebellious assembly 
then engaged in levying war against its sovereign. The 
reasons which thus converted Oxford into a Eoyalist capital 
were not merely strategical : no other provincial town could 
have contributed an equal weight of moral support to his 
cause ; nowhere else could he have found an equal number 
of young and ardent spirits devoted to his interest : no other 
community would or could have replenished his empty 
treasury with equally valuable supplies of plate and ready 
money, or provided so many volunteers to fortify and defend 
the City, which now became once more the frontier-fortress of 
central England. 

Seldom in history, and never in the annals of Oxford 
University, have characters so diverse been grouped together 
into so brilliant and picturesque a society as that which 
thronged the ancient City during the residence of Charles I., 
with his Queen, Henrietta Maria, in the autumn and winter of 
1643 — the last happy interlude of their ill-starred lives. 
Notwithstanding the paralysis of Academical studies, and the 
transformation of Colleges into barracks, neither religion nor 
learning was entirely banished from the University. Grave 
dons and gay young students were still to be seen in the 
streets, but too often in no Academical garb, and affecting the 
airs of Cavaliers, as they mingled with the ladies of the Court 
in Christ Church Walks and Trinity College Gardens, or with 
roystering troopers in the guardhouses at Eewley, where they 
entertained their ruder comrades with flashes of scholar-like 
wit. Most of the citizens, too — Eoundheads as they might be — 
were glad to remain, secretly cherishing, perhaps, the hope of 
a future retribution, but not unwilling in the meanwhile to 
levy high rents for the lodging of those courtiers and mihtary 


officers for whom there was no room in the Colleges. With 
these were blended in strange variety other elements imported 
from the country or the Metropolis — lawyers who had come 
down to attend the Courts held by the Lord Keeper and one 
of his judicial brethren ; the faithful remnant of the Lords 
and Commons, who sat in one of the Schools and the Con- 
vocation House respectively, while the University Acts were 
performed once more in St. Mary's Church ; loyal gentlemen 
driven out of their manor-houses by the enemy ; clergymen 
expelled from their parsonages ; foreigners seeking audience 
of the perplexed and Vacillating King ; needy poets, musicians, 
and players in the service of the Court, who acted Shake- 
spearian plays or lighter pieces in the College Halls. New Inn 
Hall was converted into a mint, where plate contributed by 
the Colleges and country squires was melted down and coined 
into the money for the payment of the troops. The ' Mer- 
curius Aulicus,' the earliest of English newspapers, issued from 
the Oxford Press, and every broadside published in London 
was answered by a counter-broadside from the Eoyalist head- 
quarters. Services were still performed in the Chapels ; 
sermons were preached from the pulpit of St. Mary's ; degrees 
were conferred wholesale, as rewards for loyalty, until they 
were so depreciated that at last the King promised to recom- 
mend no more candidates for them. The outward appearances 
of Academical routine were maintained with decorum ; the 
King dined and supped in public, moving freely among his 
devoted adherents, with the royal grace and easy dignity which 
long seemed to have perished with the Stuarts ; the Queen 
held those receptions in Merton College of which a tradition 
has survived to our own prosaic days ; the far sense of 
danger, and warlike rumours from without, lent a fresh zest to 
amusement and to gallantry ; and all the resources of courtly 
literature were employed to enliven a spectacle over which 
the awful catastrophe of that historical tragedy, unforeseen 
by the actors themselves, has shed a lurid glamour, never 
equalled by the romance of fiction. 

The siege of Oxford, though many a student was stationed 


on its ramparts, while others were formed into a complete 
regiment, belongs to the history of the City rather than of the 
University. It was, however, assuredly out of respect for the 
University that Fairfax addressed to the Governor of Oxford 
his well-known letter, in which he counselled a timely sub- 
mission, that he might be enabled to preserve from ruin ' that 
place, so famous for learning'; and, in the final treaty of 
surrender, the privileges of the University, and even the con- 
stitutions of Colleges, were expressly guaranteed. Anthony 
Wood describes, in language which has often been quoted, the 
utter confusion in which the past three years had left the 
University: the Colleges impoverished, the lectures almost 
abandoned, many of the students dispersed, and others quite 
demoralised — ' in a word, scarce the face of an University left, 
all things being out of order and disturbed.' Nevertheless, it 
is some proof of its inherent vigour that, no sooner was peace 
restored, than students began to return and collegiate life to 
revive. In the year 1646, the Parliament, following the 
example of so many sovereigns, decisively showed its anxiety 
to secure the allegiance of Oxford by commissioning seven 
ministers to convert the Academical mind to orthodoxy, 
through Presbyterian discourses from the pulpit. This ex- 
pedient naturally failed to produce the desired effect, and in 
the year 1647 more effectual means were taken to purge the 
University of loyalists and.prelatists, by issuing a solemn Visi- 
tation ' for the due correction of offences, abuses, and disorders, 
especially of late times, committed there.' This Visitation, 
twice renewed with important changes in the personnel of the 
Visitors, and more than one interval of suspended animation, 
lasted altogether for ten years, during the whole of which 
period the University was practically governed by Commission, 
The President of the first Visitors was Sir Nathaniel Brent, 
Warden of Merton, and, of his twenty-three colleagues, ten 
were clergymen and thirteen laymen, including the celebrated 
Prynne. The Visitors were instructed to inquire by oath 
concerning those who neglected to take the ' Solemn League 
and Covenant,' or the 'Negative Oath' against aiding the 


King, those who opposed the orders of Parliament concerning 
ecclesiastical discipline, those who contravened ' any point of 
doctrine the ignorance whereof doth exclude from the Sacra- 
ment of the Lord's Supper,' and those who had borne arms 
against the Parliament. By the same Ordinance, a standing 
Committee of Lords and Commons was appointed to receive 
reports and hear appeals from the Visitors. This Committee, 
being soon controlled' by the dominant Independent faction 
in Parliament, began to overstep these functions, and some- 
times took upon itself the right of legislating directly for the 
University. But the intestine feuds between the Presby- 
terians and Independents gave the University much the same 
advantage which St. Paul derived from the enmity of the 
Pharisees and Sadducees, enabling it to offer a passive but 
not ineffective resistance to the Visitors for several months, 
until the Parliamentary Chancellor, the Earl of Pembroke, 
arrived, in April 1648. to enforce obedience. 

The dignified and forcible statement of ' Eeasons ' drawn 
up by the University to justify its action in not submitting to 
the new tests about to be imposed, was not unworthy of its 
best days, and, what is most remarkable, it was almost 
unanimously accepted in full Convocation. As Professor 
Huber says, the adoption of such an attitude at such a time 
goes far to redeem the reproach of cowardly subservience to 
Henry VIII. It fairly earned for the University the thanks 
of Parliament in 1665, and deserves, in some degree, the 
glowing eulogy of Clarendon. The University, he says, 
' met in their Convocation, and, to their eternal renown 
(being at the same time under a strict and strong garrison 
put over them by the Parliament, the King in prison, and all 
their hopes desperate), passed a public act and declaration 
against the Covenant, with such invincible arguments of the 
illegality, wickedness, and perjury contained in it, that no man 
of the contrary opinion, nor the Assembly of the Divines, which 
then sat at Westminster, ever ventured to make any answer 
to it ; nor is it, indeed, to be answered, but must remain to 
the world's end as a monument of the learning, courage, and 


loyalty of that excellent place against the highest malice and 
tyranny that was ever exercised in or over any nation.' It 
was impossible, however, for the University or Colleges 
permanently to withstand the authority of Parliament, whose 
demands increased with the growing fanaticism of its lead- 
ing spirits. At first, University dignitaries and holders of 
College endowments were asked generally whether they would 
submit ; but afterwards they were required to subscribe, not 
only the Negative Oath, but the ' Engagement,' pledging the 
signatories to a form of Government without a King or a 
House of Lords. Several eminent men, including Eeynolds, 
who had taken all the former tests, resigned their offices 
rather than submit to this ; but it does not seem to have been 
strictly or universally applied. Still, a summary expulsion 
of contumacious officials took place : ten Heads of Colleges 
were ejected ; most of the Professors and Canons of Christ 
Church shared the same fate, and were replaced, often by 
excellent successors, under orders from the Visitors. No 
exact list of ' submissions ' and ' expulsions ' can now be made 
out, but the evidence preserved in the ' Visitors' Eegister,' 
which has come down to us, leads to the conclusion that their 
numbers were nearly equal, amounting in each case to four 
hundred or five hundred, and spread over several years. 

The later records of this great Visitation are somewhat 
obscure, but it is difficult to resist the conclusion that it 
was deliberately moderated, until it finally collapsed, by the 
friendly influence of Cromwell. That crafty political schemer 
but true-hearted Englishman, who shrank not from regicide 
or massacre, yet loved to indulge in politic acts of clemency, 
and who veiled under the jargon of Puritanical cant the 
far-sighted aims of a statesman, clearly discerned the import- 
ance of conciliating one of the few centres of independent 
thought which had survived the Puritan Kevolution, and of 
preserving one of the few solid fragments of English society 
which the Commonwealth had left standing. While the first 
set of Visitors was engaged in its work, inquisitorial, judicial, 
and administrative, Cromwell visited Oxford in state, with 

c c 


Fairfax, on May 17, 1649. Notwithstanding the recent 
execution of the King, they were cordially welcomed, and 
received a D.C.L. degree. They dined at Magdalen, played 
bowls on the College green, had supper in the Bodleian 
Library, and attended University sermons at St. Mary's 
Church. On this occasion Cromwell, addressing the Univer- 
sity authorities on behalf of himself and Fairfax, professed 
his respect for the interests of learning, and assured them of 
his desire to promote these interests for the sake of the 
Commonwealth. Nor were these vain words: Fairfax had 
already shown his' partiality for the University when the 
City was in his power, and Cromwell, becoming Chancellor in 
January 1650, gave it substantial proofs of his favour. Like 
Archbishop Laud, he presented it with a collection of manu- 
scripts ; like Henry VIII., he defended it against the spolia- 
tion designed by the Barebones Parliament, and supported by 
Milton himself. It was by Cromwell that men like Thomas 
Goodwin and John Owen were introduced into Oxford, the 
first as President of Magdalen, the second as Dean of Christ 
Church. These men, with John Conant of Exeter, did much 
to reconcile the new settlement with ancient traditions, and it 
has been well said that, when the discipline re-established by 
them was abolished, amidst the orgies of Charles II.'s return, 
it was not the discipline of Laud that took its place. The 
Board of Visitors was twice reconstituted, and lingered 
on till 1658, but its later history deserves little notice. 
Owen was appointed Vice-Chancellor by Cromwell in 1652, 
and placed at the head of a Commission to execute all 
the Chancellor's official powers. This Commission was soon 
merged into a new Board of Visitors, which, in its turn, 
was reconstituted by Cromwell as Protector. The later 
Visitors were nearly all resident dignitaries ; and, while this 
was a safeguard against innovations dictated by ignorance, 
it naturally produced an insensible reaction. Having done its 
real work, the Visitation was beginning to perish of inanition 
when Cromwell resigned the Chancellorship in 1657. Under 
Richard Cromwell, his successor, the University gradually 


recovered its independence, and became impatient of being 
nursed and schooled by a meddlesome select committee of its 
own members. As its Convocation alleged, ' Visitors residing 
upon the place did rather nourish and foment than appease 
differences ' — the more so as they sometimes acted as judges 
on their own causes. At last, in 1658, the Visitors ceased to 
sit ; and it is a significant fact that it is not known how 
their commission was terminated, or whether it was termi- 
nated at all. By this time, however, it was beginning to 
be manifest that, after all, the old order in Church and State 
was regretted by a majority of the people, and that England 
was almost tired of Puritan despotism. Parliament itself 
had virtually established an amended Monarchy, with a new 
House of Lords, and the army alone had prevented Cromwell 
from assuming the Crown. No one was so well aware as he 
of the revulsion in popular sentiment, calling for a revival of 
the institutions so hastily demolished, and bis prescient mind 
foreboded, if it did not actually foresee, the coming restoration 
of the Stuarts. 

The first presage of this event was the news brought to 
Oxford, on February 13, 1G60, that a ' free Parliament,' or Con- 
vention, was about to be assembled. The effect produced by it on 
the Oxford world is graphically depicted by Anthony Wood : — 

' The scene of all things is now changed, and alteration 
made in the countenances, actions, manners and words of all 
men. Those that for these twelve years last past had 
governed and carried all things in a manner at their pleasure, 
looked discontented, plucked their hats over their eyes, and 
were much perplexed, foreseeing that their being here must 
inevitably vanish. Those that had laid under a cloud for 
several years behind appear with cheerful looks, while others 
that had then flourished drooped away or withdrew them- 
selves privately. . . . The Common Prayer-Book and surplice 
were restored in every church and chapel, and the service 
that had been lately practised, viz., a Psalm or two, two 
chapters, and a prayer of the priest's own making, with a 
little more, laid aside. All tokens of monarchy that were 


lately defaced or obscured in the University were also restored 
or new furbished over, and whatsover was as yet fit to be 
introduced many did not spare to effect, and some, to 
outrun and overdo the law, before the King and Parliament 
had commanded or put it in force.' Yet historical justice 
compels us to acknowledge that Oxford had neither been 
depopulated nor ill-governed under the Commonwealth. On 
the contrary, the Academical population was already larger 
than it had been in the reign of James I., and one fact alone 
is sufficient to show that it was not devoid of intellectual life. 
While the Visitation' was still in progress, Oxford was the 
scene of those meetings which entitle it to claim an almost 
equal share with London in the foundation of the Eoyal 
Society. We learn from Dr. Wallis, an original member of 
that Society, that scientific conferences had been held 
weekly in London, so early as 1645, by a small company of 
savants, including himself. Dr. Wilkins, afterwards Warden of 
Wadham, and Dr. Goddard, afterwards Warden of Merton. 
In the early days of the Commonwealth, these three removed 
to Oxford, and there continued to meet, as before, at the 
lodgings of Sir William Petty, or Dr. Wilkins, or Kobert 
Boyle, who afterwards joined them, with such colleagues as 
Dr. Bathurst and Sir Christopher Wren, of whom Evelyn 
speaks as ' that miracle of a youth,' ' that rare and early 
prodigy of universal science.' Meanwhile, as Wallis tells us, 
' those meetings in London continued, and after the King's 
return, in 1660, were increased with the accession of divers 
worthy and honourable persons,' who, together with their 
Oxford associates, afterwards constituted the Eoyal Society. 
Assuredly Oxford was not at its worst in the days of 
Cromwell. Clarendon himself reluctantly admits that, 
although such a reign of barbarism as he describes to have 
followed the Visitation would naturally have extirpated both 
learning and religion, yet, ' by God's wonderful blessing, 
the goodness and richness of that soil could not be made 
barren by all that stupidity and negligence.' Listead 
thereof, he continues, ' it yielded a harvest of extraordinary 


good and sound knowledge in all parts of learning ; and many 
who were wickedly introduced applied themselves to the 
study of good learning and the practice of virtue, and had 
inclination to that duty and obedience they had never been 
taught ; so that when it pleased God to bring King Charles 
the Second back to his throne, he found that University . . . 
abounding in excellent learning, and devoted to duty and 
obedience little inferior to what it was before its desolation.' 

With these words of Clarendon we may fitly conclude our 
brief review of the stormiest episode in University history. 

The Restoration of Charles II. ushered in an age of degene- 
racy for Oxford University which lasted for more than a 
century. Of course there was a fresh Visitation ; but eight of 
the new Visitors had held offices under the late ' usurpation,' 
as it was now to be called, and though a restitution of expelled 
Royalists was the main purpose of their commission, so few 
appeared to claim it that most of the Fellows elected under 
the Commonwealth were allowed to keep their places. More 
important than any personal changes was the Royal letter 
re-establishing all the statutes and regulations in force during 
the last reign, including the oaths introduced under James I. 
This was followed by the Act of Uniformity, passed in 16G2, 
and containing a provision, but lately repealed, which required 
every College Fellow on his election to make, before the Vice- 
Chancellor, a declaration of conformity to the Liturgy of the 
Church of England. With this Act, as has been well said, 
not merely the reign but the very being of the Puritans in the 
Universities came to an end. Thenceforward, Oxford became 
more effectually than ever a seminary of the Anglican clergy 
and country gentry ; but there was no violent break in the 
continuity of its corporate life, and the University, so long the 
battle-ground of rival parties in the State, enjoyed compara- 
tive repose throughout Charles II.'s inglorious reign. Anthony 
Wood, however, Royalitst though he was, soon found reason 


to deplore both the laxity of manners and the dearth of 
students. Writing in 1677, he puts the question : ' Why 
doth solid and serious Learning decline, and few or none follow 
it now in the University ? ' In his answer he divides the 
blame pretty equally between the alehouses, of which there 
were said to be above 270 in Oxford, the newly-established 
' coffee-houses,' and the ' common chambers,' by which he 
means what are now known as common-rooms. Writing in 
1682, he attributes the decline in the number of students to 
three causes. The first is the constant expectation of a Parlia- 
ment, and the fear 'of being turned out to make room for 
members of both Houses. The second is (in his own words) 
that ' all those that we call Whigs, and side with the Parlia- 
ment, will not send their sons, for fear of their being Tories.' 
The last is that, like the Episcopal Bench, the University 
labours under the suspicion of a leaning towards Popery. 

Of these reasons, the first two were not ill-founded. When 
the plague was at its height, in September 1665, a Parliament 
was actually held at Oxford, and passed the Five Mile Act, 
which prohibited Dissenting mmisters from teaching in schools, 
or settling within five miles of any city or borough, under a 
penalty of 401. The ' Oxford Gazette,' afterwards transformed 
into the ' London Gazette,' which has lasted to our own times, 
was first published during this visit. The King remained in 
Oxford for the whiter, lodging, as usual, at Christ Church ; 
while the Queen was accommodated at Merton, residing in the 
very rooms where her mother-in-law, Henrietta Maria, held 
her Court during the Civil War. The University was justly 
scandalised by the fact of rooms at Merton being also assigned 
to Miss Stuart, afterwards Duchess of Eichmond, and Barbara 
Vilhers, Lady Castlemaine, who there gave birth to her son, 
the Duke of Grafton. Sixteen years afterwards, in the spring 
of 1681, Charles IL opened the last Parliament ever held at 
Oxford. Like his father, he regarded the University as a 
stronghold of loyalty, and supposed that Whig members 
would there be subjected to influences under which they 
miglit be deterred from passing the Exclusion Bill, directed 


against the succession of his brother, the Duke of York. 
Macaulay tells us that he feared an outbreak of revolutionary 
violence if the Parhament should be held at Westminster ; 
and though at Oxford there was no such danger, he journeyed 
thither surrounded by his guards of horse and foot. The 
Exclusionist members were escorted by hosts of armed tenants 
and retainers ; so that, as Macaulay says, the meeting at 
Oxford resembled that of a Polish Diet rather than of an 
English Parliament. Some of the Schools, as before, were 
fitted up for the Lords, and the Convocation House for the 
Commons. The session lasted but a week. In spite of un- 
expected concessions from the King, the majority proved 
hopelessly refractory ; whereupon the Parliament was sud- 
denly dissolved by the King in person, who had quietly put 
the crown and robes into a sedan-chair, got into it himself, 
and taken both Houses by surprise. After this perform- 
ance he is reported to have exclaimed : ' Now am I King of 
England, and was not before.' As two out of five Parlia- 
ments summoned by Charles II. had met in Oxford, the fear 
of another suspension of University studies was natural ; but 
it was never realised, for he took care to hold no Parliament 
at all during the last three years of his reign. 

The spread of Toryism at Oxford was an undoubted fact, 
and its principles were dogmatically affirmed by the University, 
in the very year after this event, in a: fit of servile loyalty 
evoked by the disclosure of the Eye House Plot. On July 2 1 , 
1683, the University Convocation passed a decree formally 
condemning the doctrine that resistance to a king is lawful ; 
which doctrine it reduced to six propositions, expressly stated 
to have been culled from the works of Milton, Baxter, and 
Goodwin. One of the condemned proi^ositions, which now 
reads like a truism, was as follows : — ' There lies no obliga- 
tion upon Christians to passive obedience, when the prince 
commands anything against the laws of our country.' This 
decree in favour of passive obedience was publicly burned, in 
1709, by order of the House of Lords. It is fair, however, to 
remember that it also contained a solemn anatliema against 


other heresies, mostly founded on the despotic principles of 
Hobbes's ' Leviathan,' thereby anticipating the verdict of the 
country in 1688. The expulsion of Locke from Christ Church, 
in the following year, by direct order of the King, was a tit 
seqviel to an Academical declaration of non-resistance, and 
shows that he, no less than Henry VIIL, regarded the Uni- 
versity as a potent instrument of his Koyal will. Macaulay, 
indeed, regards the power of both the Universities as having 
reached its height during the latter part of the seventeenth 
century, and that of Oxford had been strenuously exerted 
on the side of the Grown. It was characteristic of James II. 
to strain its well-tried loyalty to breaking-point, and he was 
doubtless encouraged in his fatuous designs by the singular 
outburst of martial ardour, in the University upon the news 
of Monmouth's rebellion. His mistake was that he shared 
the impression which Anthony Wood describes as prevalent, 
and interpreted the effusive Toryism of the gownsmen as 
implying a leaning towards Popery. With that strange 
Ignorance of his covmtrymen which ultimately proved his 
ruin, he proceeded to use the dispensing power without sthit 
for the purpose of dislodging the Church of England from 
the position secured to it at the Eeformation, and gradually 
restoring the supremacy of the ancient faith. A new Court 
of Ecclesiastical Commission was set up, and soon declared 
war against both Universities, whose submission appears to 
have been taken for granted. Having already nominated 
Massey, a Papist, as Dean of Christ Church, and having a ready 
tool in Obadiah Walker, Master of University, the infatuated 
King seriously meditated the conversion of the University. 
As the army was to be Piomanised by granting commissions 
to Papist officers, and the municipal corporations by can- 
celling their charters and appointing Papist mayors, so the 
University and Colleges were to bo reclaimed through Papist 
Heads and Fellows. The brunt of the battle was borne, as 
is well known, by Magdalen College, on which the first experi- 
ment was made, and the record of its manful resistance to 
James 11, 's outrageous violence is part of English history. 


The Presidentship of Magdalen had become vacant in 
March, 1687. Farmer, a Papist of notoriously bad character, 
and statutably ineligible, was recommended for the office by 
a peremptory Royal mandamus. The Fellows, supported by 
their Visitor, took their stand upon the College statutes, and, 
after vainly petitioning the King to withdraw his command, 
elected Hough, one of then- own body, to whom no exception 
could be taken. They were summoned before the new Court 
of Ecclesiastical Commission, over which the infamous Jefferies 
presided ; the election was annulled, and the King issued a 
new mandate in favour, not of Farmer, but of Parker, Bishop 
of Oxford, a man after the King's own heart. James came 
to Oxford in person, on September 4, 1687, to enforce com- 
pliance, probably imagining that members of an University 
which had embraced the doctrine of passive obedience would 
not scruple to break their oaths at his bidding. To his sur- 
prise, they stood upon their constitutional rights and duties, 
braved all his threats of punishment, and, after some feints 
of submission or compromise, held out until they were forcibly 
dispossessed by a Royal Commission. True to his implacable 
character, James had insisted, not only on their submission, 
but on a retractation of their errors and a confession of their 
guilt ; the Ecclesiastical Commission now proceeded to declare 
them incapable of Church preferment. Having admitted 
several Popish Fellows and Demies at the King's dictation, 
Parker died ; whereupon James appointed Bonaventura Giffard, 
a Papist of the Sorbonne. But the handwriting was already 
visible on the wall. The acquittal of the Seven Bishops, the 
spread of open disaffection in the army and navy, the invita- 
tion to William of Orange, and the news of his preparations 
for an expedition, suddenly awakened, not the conscience, 
but the perceptions, of James. During the month of October 
1688, he made desperate efforts to save himself from ruin, 
giving back the forfeited town charters, recalling Protestant 
officers who had been cashiered, dissolving the Ecclesiastical 
Commission, and consulting the Episcopal Bench on the 
best means of escape from his hopeless position. On their 


advice, he addressed letters to the Visitor of Magdalen, re- 
instating the ejected Fellows. But this act of deathbed re- 
pentance came too late. The Fellows were restored, indeed, 
on October 25 ; but on November 5 William landed, and less 
than six weeks later James fled the kingdom. 

Considering how gross an outrage had been offered by the 
last Stuart king to the privileges of the University, and how 
large a space this outrage filled in the public mind on the 
eve of the Eevolution, we may well marvel that no enthusiasm 
greeted the Eevolution at Oxford. It seems to have been 
quietly accepted there as an irrevocable fact, rather than 
welcomed as the consecration of civil and religious liberty. 
It is true that deputies were sent to salute William on his 
way to London, and that most of the chief University and 
College dignitaries signed a pledge to support him in restor- 
ing order and liberty. But their adhesion proved to be 
half-hearted ; reactionary tendencies soon manifested them- 
selves : William himself was coldly received when he 
visited the University in 1695 ; and within fifteen years 
after the repulse of James II. at Magdalen, Oxford became 
a hotbed of Jacobite disaffection, which lasted for two whole 

In attempting to ascertain the motives of this reaction, 
which at first sight appears so unreasonable, we must be on 
our guard against a common fallacy of our age. Since the 
French Eevolution, when the Eights of Man first became the 
watchword of progress, and the impulse was given to con- 
stitutional reforms by the intolerable sufferings of the labour- 
ing-classes, we have become accustomed to seek a democratic 
source for all revolutionary movements, and to assume that 
advocates of Liberal measures receive their mandate, if they 
do not draw their inspiration, from the masses of the people. 
But in the olden times it was not so. Neither the Eeforma- 
tion, nor the Puritan revolt against the Stuarts, nor the 
Eevolution of 1688, nor even the American Eevolution, was 
essentially popular in its origin, or commanded, in its earlier 
stages, the sympathy of a majority in the nation. Henry VIII. 


could rely on an obsequious Parliament ; but he knew well 
how deeply rooted was the old religion in the hearts of his 
poorer subjects, including those whom the Dissolution of 
Monasteries converted into ' sturdy vagrants.' Cromwell 
ruled by the will of the army, but he would never have 
submitted his authority to a jilehiscite. William III. and the 
first two Georges were supported on the throne by a Whig 
oligarchy, whose influence preponderated in the governing 
class, and was guided by leaders of rare sagacity. Civil 
liberty and religious toleration were not democratic triumphs; 
they were achieved by a resolute and compact minority, which 
possessed itself of the Government, and succeeded in main- 
taining them until they were accepted by the great body 
of Enghshmen as their natural birthright. But even the 
governing class, then but a fraction of the country, comprised 
within itself a large Tory element, which, however unwilling 
to risk another change of dynasty, cherished Jacobite senti- 
ment with marvellous tenacity. This minority was largely 
represented among the clergymen and country gentlemen 
who received their education at Oxford. Probably they in- 
herited a traditional High Church partisanship, handed down 
from the days of the Puritan Visitation ; doubtless many of 
them resented the harsh treatment of the Non-Jurors, while 
nearly all of them mistrusted the latitudinarian opinions 
attributed to William III., openly patronised by WTiig states- 
men, and partially embodied in the Comprehension Bill. It 
must be confessed that, with the doubtful exception of Anne, 
none of the four sovereigns who succeeded James II. were 
qualified to inspire feelings of personal loyalty ; nor is it easy 
to determine whether George I. and II. or the two Pretenders 
were the less worthy of the devotion manifested on their 
behalf. At all events, however Oxford Jacobitism may have 
been engendered, and whether it was in the nature of a pro- 
found conviction or of an inveterate fashion, it was not 
only shared by ' dons ' and students, but also by the noisier 
section of Oxford citizens ; it was the one important feature 
in the external history of the University during the first half 


of the last century, and, like Scotch Jacobitism, it retained a 
sort of poetical life up to a still later period. 

We can but glance at the evidence which all but justifies 
the statement that, ' during the Hanoverian rule, Oxford 
became the Jacobite capital of England, against London.' 
Locke is said to have warned King William that, unless the 
Universities were reformed again, the work of the Eevolution 
' would all soon go back.' Queen Anne, being suspected of 
Toryism, was heartily received at Oxford on two occasions ; 
but even during this period of Whig ascendancy, in the earliej: 
part of her reign, Btirnet concurred with the antiquary Hearne, 
a fanatical Jacobite, in regarding the University as honey- 
combed with High Church bigotry, which broke out into a 
flame on the trial of Dr. Sacheverel. It was now that the 
University decree of 1683, in favour of passive obedience, 
was publicly burned by order of the House of Lords. Under 
the Administration of Harley and St. John, Oxford paraded 
its Toryism without disguise and the peaceful accession of 
the Elector of Hanover was received by gownsmen with 
sullen disappointment. The Tory Democracy of the Uni- 
versity now took refuge in libels, disloyal toasts, and offensive 
lampoons, while the Tory mob of the City disported itself in 
wrecking Dissenting chapels. On the other hand, a ' Con- 
stitution Club' was founded by a few AVhig graduates. 
The attempt of this Club to celebrate the King's birthday in 
1715 led to a serious riot. The University again incurred 
the censure of the House of Lords, and the Government, in 
view of the Scotch rebellion, took decisive measures by sending 
down a military force to Oxford, and proclaiming martial 
law there. It was this act of severity which an Oxford wit 
contrasted with the King's recent present of a library to 
Cambridge in lines which, together with the Cambridge re- 
partee, have become historical. 

King George, observing with judicious eyes 
The state of both his Universities, 
To Oxford sent a troop of horse — for why ? 
That learned body wanted loyalty. 


To Cambridge, books he sent, as well discerning 
How much that loyal body wanted learning. 

The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse. 
For Tories own no argument but force ; 
With equal care, to Cambridge books he sent, 
For Whigs admit no force but argument. 

But the Oxford Whigs long continued to be subjected to 
Academical persecution by the dominant Tory faction, and 
it was seriously contemplated by the Government to introduce 
a Bill suspending the constitution of both Universities, and 
placing the appointment to all offices therein, for the next 
fifteen years, in the hands of the Crown. Neither George I. 
nor George II. ever deigned to visit Oxford, well knowing that 
covert Jacobitism was the prevailing creed of the University, 
where it sometimes broke out into violent demonstrations, 
as when, after the withdrawal of Walpole's Excise Bill, the 
University bells were rung, disorderly revels lasted for three 
nights, and the healths of Ormond, Bolingbroke, and James 
III. were publicly drunk round the bonfires. Even after the 
suppression of the Rebellion in 1745 it was not extinct, and a 
congratulatory address from the University on the Peace of 
Aix-la-Chapelle was rejected by the King with disdain. By 
this time, however, it had ceased to be formidable, betraying 
itself chiefly in University sermons and elections to the 
Chancellorship. Though Pitt denounced it in the House of 
Commons so late as 1754, it seems to have been sensibly 
checked by the patriotic enthusiasm called forth during the 
closing years of George II.'s reign, and to have been finally 
quenched by the accession of George III. 

That University studies and University morals were at a 
low ebb during the eighteenth century admits of no doubt 
whatever. Too much stress, indeed, has been laid on the 
evidence of Gibbon, who became a Gentleman-Commoner of 
Magdalen in his fifteenth year, and was constantly making 
it the starting-point of pleasure-excursions. But this evidence 
is substantially confirmed by that of witnesses differing widely 
from each other in their character and Academical experience 


— by Swift and Defoe, Addison and Gray, Johnson and John 
Wesley, Lord Malmesbury, Lord Eldon, and Lord Chester- 
field, the last of whom speaks of the University as ' known 
only for its treasonable spirit.' The well-known strictures of 
Adam Smith are chiefly directed against the system of teach- 
ing ; and, in spite of many honourable exceptions, it is certain 
that the three generations which followed the lievolution were 
the Dark Age of Oxford University. Several reasons may be 
suggested for this decay of education and learning in Oxford, 
while mathematical studies were vigorously cultivated in 
Cambridge, and had already contributed to English science 
the greatest name in its illustrious history. One of these 
reasons, however, is sufficient, and it is one which throws a 
flood of light on a theory, once happily exploded, but now 
boldly revived. If, as some high authorities maintain, the 
scarcity of genius among us is mainly due to our students 
being harassed by examinations, then Oxford under Queen 
Anne and the first Georges ought to have been a very 
Paradise of what is now called ' mature study and original 
research ' ; for the old statutable exercises, which tested know- 
ledge in former ages, had fallen into disuse, the examination 
for the B.A. degree was little more than a mockery, and there 
was no Honours List at all. Yet this was the age in which 
Oxford rendered the minimum of service, not only to learning 
and science, but to political and national life, being fairly 
distanced in the performance of its highest functions by the 
sister University of Cambridge, which had been less disturbed 
by politics, and wisely adopted the examination system at an 
earlier period. 

It must not be forgotten, however, that when this intel- 
lectual and spiritual torpor was at its worst — in the first years 
of George II.'s reign — the Methodist Eevival owed its origin to 
Oxford. Though Oxford had just produced the ablest of its 
orthodox theologians in Bishop Butler, the influence of prac- 
tical Christianity in the University had been on the decline 
ever since the Eestoration, and was never weaker than during 
the long twenty years' peace under Walpole. Walpole himself 


was no unworthy representative of the moral and religious 
principles which then prevailed in the common-rooms of 
Oxford. Notwithstanding their hoisterous sympathy with the 
High Church party in politics, many senior members of the 
University, both clerical and lay, secretly leaned to Eationalism, 
and the Deism which came in with the Revolution of 1688 
became rife again under the Georges. Of course, it was dis- 
countenanced by the authorities. In the year 1730, three 
students were expelled for holding Deistical tenets ; several 
heads of Colleges issued a joint notice censuring the spread 
of Deism among the students, and the Vice-Chancellor, in 
a ' protp-amma,' solemnly warned tutors and uudergi-aduates 
against literature calculated to disturb Christian faith. It 
was about the same year, and in this unpromising soil, teem- 
ing with High Church prejudices, saturated with mere world- 
liness, and now infected with Deism, that the seeds of 
Methodism were sown at Oxford by the two Wesleys, Whitefield, 
Hervey, and a very few associates. 

Of this little band, John Wesley at once became the 
acknowledged leader. Their earliest meetings were held for 
the simple purpose of reading the Greek Testament, and en- 
couraging one another in study and good works. From the 
first they adopted a strict code of religious observance — which 
some of them carried to the length of asceticism — and made a 
practice of receiving the Holy Communion weekly — in that 
age, a rare proof of religious devotion. But within a year their 
sympathies widened, and took a philanthropic direction. To 
John Wesley and his fellows the essence of the movement, 
soon to be called Methodism, was not so much devotional as 
practical — not so much the propagation of a new creed, as 
charitable ministrations and the moral salvation of human 
souls. They strove to rescue young students from evil 
company, relieved poor families, taught in schools, and visited 
the inmates of the workhouse and gaol. Strange to say, this 
brought unmerited ridicule upon them, which may have been 
also provoked by the eccentric demeanour of the more ardent ; 
but they persevered, and the impression which they produced 



was quite out of proportion to their numbers, always insignifi- 
cant. Their enthusiasm, however, was steadily discouraged 
by the College authorities, and Methodism was short-lived in 
Oxford. The history of its activity virtually ends with the 
ill-advised mission of John and Charles Wesley to Georgia in 
1735. The Oxford Methodists could not survive, as an inde- 
pendent sect, without the presence and example of their 
leader ; and, within three years of his departure, the com- 
munion destined to exercise so great an influence on both 
sides of the Atlantic had dwindled to impotence in the City 
which had been at once the cradle of the movement and the 
stronghold of opposition to it. Still, individuals continued to 
be suspected of Methodism, and so late as 17G8 the Vice- 
Chancellor expelled six Methodist students from St. Edmund 
Hall as disturbers of the peace, notwithstanding the jDrotest 
of the Principal. This high-handed act was actually defended 
by Dr. Johnson, at a time when University discipline was 
shamefully lax, gambling, blasphemy, and drunkenness being 
condoned as venial offences. After this we hear no more of 
Methodism at Oxford. Nor is it hard to understand why it 
failed to command acceptance there after its first conquests, 
since it appealed more and more to the religious emotions of 
the less educated classes, abandoning any attempt to satisfy 
the reason of inquirers. 

Nearly a century elapsed before another wave of religious 
excitement — this time a reactionary wave — passed over the 
still and apathetic surface of University society at Oxford. 
It was less important than Methodism in its jjurely moral 
aspect, since it was far less popular and practical, leaving no 
such profound impression on the religious life of the nation. 
On the other hand, it sprang from deeper political causes, and 
exercised a more powerful influence on Anglican theology, since 
it wore a more scholar-like garb, was more attractive to cul- 
tivated and imaginative minds, allied itself with the romantic, 
speculative, and historical spirit of the age, and purported 
to be essentially constructive, or reconstructive. The great 
Neo-Catholic Revival of the nineteenth century was set on 


foot by a select body of Oxford men, with the dehberate 
purpose of defending the Church and the Christianity of 
England against the dominant Liberalism which had carried 
the Eeform Act, and openly avowed its Erastian principles. 
The, University of Oxford was the national centre for such a 
reaction, and it was so intimately identified with that Uni- 
versity that it came to be generally known as ' The Oxford 
Movement.' It took its rise in the Common-Eoom of Oriel 
College, of which Pusey and Keblc were Fellows ; but its real 
leader was John Henry Newman. As Wesley's sympathies 
were originally with High Church doctrines, so Newman's 
were originally with Evangelical doctrines, and it was not 
until after his return from Italy, in 1833, that he brought out, 
in concert with Hurrell Froude, the first of that series of 
' Tracts for the Times ' from which his party derived its 
familiar name of Traetarians. This is not the place to review 
the distinctive tenets of that party ; suffice it to say, that it 
contemptuously rejected the name of ' Protestant,' and treated 
the Pieformation with the scantiest respect, yet emphatically 
disavowed allegiance to Eome. Newman's professed object 
was to revive the usages and doctrines of the primitive Church ; 
to co-operate, indeed, with the Church of Eome, but to keep 
aloof from its pernicious corruptions ; to establish the catho- 
licity of the Anglican Church, but, above all, to hold the ria 
media laid down by its founders. This ideal was soon to be 
shattered ; but, while it lasted, it produced a profoimd impres- 
sion on the younger graduates, predisposed to rebel against 
the self-complacent and lifeless orthodoxy which then ruled, 
both in the Oxford lecture-rooms and in the University pulj^it. 
Like Methodism, the Tractarian movement spread from Oxford 
over the whole country ; but, unlike Methodism, it long re- 
tained Oxford as its central base of operations, and became an 
intellectual fashion of the University. Still, the influence of 
Tractarianism over Oxford thought must not be exaggerated. 
It fascinated many subtle and imaginative minds of a high 
order, it gathered into itself much of the spiritual life of the 
University, and allied itself with much latent discontent 

D D 


which had little real affinity to it. But there were many 
robust intellects and earnest hearts which it not only failed to 
reach, but stirred into hostility. When Tract XC. shocked the 
moral sense of most Churchmen, and the Bishops declared 
against the movement, the power of Newman sensibly waned, 
and he resigned the Vicarage of St. Mary's, in 1843, under an 
impulse of despondency, on failing to dissuade a young friend 
from conversion to Eomanism. Two years later he was him- 
self received into the Church of Eome, the real tendency of 
his teaching was revealed, and, though some devoted adherents 
followed him, the progress orf the Neo-Catholic Eevival was 
suddenly arrested. But the ' Oxford Movement ' had left its 
mark on the English Church, as well as on the University, in 
the widespread restoration of churches, in the improvement of 
church services, and in a greater energy of practical religion. 
After a period of suspended animation, it took a new departure 
under the name of Eitualism ; but it had then lost its Acade- 
mical character, and ceased to draw its inspiration from the 
University of Oxford. 

Two episodes, and one sequel, of the Oxford Movement 
deserve a brief notice, since they illustrate the notable influ- 
ence of the University on the Church of England during the 
last fifty years. The one was the controversy arising out of 
the appointment of Dr. Hampden to the Eegius Professorship 
of Divinity in 1836, followed by a vote of censure on him 
in the Oxford Convocation, and culminating in the protest, 
supported by thirteen Bishops, against his nomination to 
the see of Hereford in 1847. The other was the solemn con- 
demnation of Mr. Ward by the University in 1845, a year or 
two after Dr. Pusey had been suspended from preaching in 
the University pulpit. In both these cases, the University as- 
sumed the position of a quasi-Ecclesiastical Commission, and 
its jurisdiction was recognised, not, indeed, by the Ministers 
of the Crown, still less by the English people, but certainly 
by a majority of the Anglican clergy. Thirty years after his 
own suspension. Dr. Pusey, now regarded as a champion of 
orthodoxy, came forward, with certain other Doctors of Divinity, 


to bring a charge of heresy against Mr. Jowett of BaUiol, the 
Eegius Professor of Greek, who had contributed to the volume 
called 'Essays and Reviews.' This volume contained seven 
articles, live of which were contributed by eminent members 
of Oxford University, and was generally received as a prelude 
to a new Oxford Movement in the direction of Rationahsm. 
While proceedings were taken in the Ecclesiastical Courts 
against two of its authors, the suit against Mr. Jowett was 
instituted in the Chancellor's Court, the jurisdiction of which 
in spiritual matters was affirmed by the judgment delivered on 
February 6, 1863, though a decision on the merits of the 
case was skilfully avoided. A somewhat undignified contro- 
versy followed, and greatly disturbed the peace of the Univer- 
sity, on the question of increasing the very meagre endowment 
of the Greek Professorship — a measure which Dr. Pusey and 
his adherents opposed, on the sole ground that it would 
strengthen the position of the existing Professor. This con- 
troversy agitated the Church as well as the University, but it 
was at last settled by a compromise, on February 18, 1865, to 
the satisfaction of even the High Church residents, who no 
longer cared to please the non-resident clergy by perpetuating 
an apparent injustice which damaged their own credit with 
the abler students. Soon afterwards, the supremacy of the 
Conservative Party in the constituency was decisively esta- 
blished by the defeat of Mr. Gladstone, and two fruitful sources 
of Academical discord were removed within a few months 
of each other. Since 1865, a tacit concordat has prevailed 
between the two great schools of thought in Oxford, and a 
philosophical toleration of opinion has superseded the intole- 
rant dogmatism, not confined to one party in the Church, 
which had its origin in the Nco-Catholic Revival. 

Wc have dwelt at some length on these religious move- 
ments, because the place of the University in English history 
since the accession of George III. must be mainly determined, 
not by its connection with Imperial politics, but rather by its in- 
fluence on the opinion of the governing classes. We may seek 

D D 2 


ill vain for any memorable events in its external life during the 
reigns of George III. and George IV., unless it be the visit of 
the Allied Sovereigns in 1814 ; and even the records of its 
domestic life during this long period are meagre and trivial in 
the extreme. It is right, however, to notice the new Exami- 
nation Statute of 1800, and the subsequent introduction of the 
class-system, which, in reforming and invigorating the methods 
of classical study at Oxford, sensibly enriched the intellectual 
life of the country. The system thus instituted has been 
maintained in principle ever since, though it was transformed 
afresh in 1850, only to be amended and extended by a series 
of supplementary measures, which is by no means completed. 
Whatever be its shortcomings, the services rendered by Oxford 
to Church and State in the nineteenth century have been 
greater, beyond comparison, than it rendered in the eighteenth, 
and the improvement in Academical education has raised in 
an equal degree the standard of Academical learning. 

Still more important have been the changes effected in the 
constitution of the University and Colleges, within the last forty 
years, by the direct action of the Legislature. Nearly two 
centuries had elapsed since the Puritan Visitation, when Parlia- 
ment was again moved to undertake the work of University 
reform, and a Eoyal Commission was issued in 1850, ' for the 
purpose of enquiring into the state, discipline, studies and , 
revenues ' of the University and Colleges. The report of this 
Commission of Enquiry was followed in 1854 by an Act of 
Parliament, which constituted a fresh Executive Commission 
to remodel the collegiate system. In 1872, a new wave of 
democratic sentiment impelled the Government of Mr. Glad- 
stone to issue a third Commission, to enquire specially into the 
application of University and College revenues Finally, in 
1877 the Government of Lord Beaconsfield carried a Bill 
empowering a fourth Commission to make a large provision 
out of College revenues for University purposes. In the 
meantime, after a contest prolonged over nine years, the com- 
plete abolition of University Tests, already reduced by the Act 
of 1854, was brought about by an Act passed in 1871, and 


due to a persistent movement chiefly emanating from the 
Universities themselves. 

The frequency of these Parliamentary interventions is a 
significant feature of University history during the reign of 
Queen Victoria, and they have heen supplemented by a rest- 
less activity of innovation within the University itself. What- 
ever may be said against some of the measures thus initiated 
by successive Commissions and successive groups of University 
legislators, their general result has certainly been to strengthen 
and popularise the University as a national institution. In- 
stead of being administered by the old Hebdomadal Board, 
consisting solely of the Heads of Colleges with the two Proc- 
tors, it is now practically governed by an elective Council 
and a vigorous deliberative assembly, comprising all resident 
Masters of Arts. The monopoly of Colleges has been finally 
broken down, not only by the revival of private Halls, but 
also by the full recognition of non-collegiate students. All 
University degrees, except those in Divinity, and all College 
emoluments, with trifling excei^tions, are now thrown open 
to candidates without distinction of creed, and, in most cases, 
without restriction on the place of birth or education. In- 
stead of being confined to classics and mathematics, the Uni- 
versity curriculum and examination system have been so 
extended as to include all branches of Natural Science, 
Modern History, Law, Theology, and Oriental Languages. 
A large appropriation of College revenues has been made for 
the endowment of Professorships ; and though it has not 
been found so easy to provide the new Professors with audi- 
ences, the educational function of the University is at least 
redeemed from the reproach of being merged in mere College 
tuition. The University Library, Museums, and other insti- 
tutions for the common benefit of students, have received a 
vigorous development. With the almost total abolition of 
clerical jn'ivileges, the clerical spirit of the University has 
been largely tempered, and, though its religious character 
has not been impaired by the admission of Nonconformists, 
it has ceased to bo a hotbed of theological controversy. It 


is not too much to say that within the last thirty-five years 
the University has made greater progress than in any pre- 
vious century : Oxford science has once more begun to com- 
mand the respect of Europe ; the professoriate has received 
an accession of illustrious names ; and the work of College 
tutors, instead of being the temporary vocation of Fellows 
waiting for livings, has gradually placed itself on the footing 
of a regular profession. Instead of drying up the bounty of 
founders, as had been confidently predicted, the reforms of 
late years have apparently caused the stream of benefactions 
to flow with renewed abundance. Nearly all the older Colleges 
have extended their buildings, mostly by the aid of private 
munificence, a new College has been founded, two Noncon- 
formist Colleges for post-graduate study have been transferred 
to Oxford, and the aggregate number of undergraduates in 
residence has been nearly doubled within forty years. Nor 
is the educational influence of the University during this 
period to be measured solely by its internal growth. By 
means of Local Examinations, instituted thirty years ago, it 
has indirectly assumed, together with the University of Cam- 
bridge, the inspection of middle-class education throughout 
England. By another system of examinations, conducted in 
concert with the sister University, it has largely increased its 
control over the higher class of public schools, whose studies 
had long been regulated by the standard established at the 
Universities. By the organisation of Academical lectures in 
populous centres, it has extended the spirit of its teaching to 
classes who cannot afford the expense of prolonged residence 
at Oxford itself. But this is not all. We must also re- 
member how vast a number of those who govern the educa- 
tional movement, directly or indirectly, have themselves passed 
under the discipline of Oxford or Cambridge. Not only the 
Head Masters of all the public schools, but the great body of 
clergymen and of barristers, all the Bishops, and a majority 
of the Judges, are alumni of English or Irish Universities. 
By virtue of their connection with the Church, especially, 
the two older Universities are responsible for the guidance of 


National Education to an extent which it is hardly possible 
to exaggerate. It is clergjrmen there educated who not only 
are the sole representatives of learning in most country 
parishes, but manage the great majority of parochial schools 
which are not under School Boards. Nearly the whole staflf 
of the Education OfiSce itself, as well as that of the Civil 
Service Commission, has been recruited from Oxford and 
Cambridge, and graduates of those Universities fill the highest 
positions in the administrative and political service of the 
State in a ratio out of all proportion to their numbers, even 
as compared with the wealthier classes of society. But 
perhaps the most potent of all educational agencies is what 
is known as the Press. If it could be ascertained how largely 
English journalism and periodical literature are indebted to 
Oxford and Cambridge men for their present characteristics, 
and how largely English habits of thought are formed by 
English journalism and periodical literature, it would furnish a 
crowning proof of the unseen but all-pervading influence 
exercised by those Universities on National Education. 

Such has been the place of Oxford University in the past 
history of England — a place which it has mainly owed to its 
own inherent vitality, but which has been secured to it by the 
policy of successive Governments, and which it has shared 
with Cambridge alone among the non-jjolitical institutions of 
the country. To forecast the place which it may be destined 
to fill in the future history of England is beyond our aim 
and beyond our skill. That it has survived three civil wars, 
the dissolution of monasteries, the shock of the Reformation, 
and the levelling reign of Puritanism, is no proof that it will 
be spared by the utilitarian spirit of modern Democracy. It 
may be that its endowments will excite the cupidity, and its 
privileges will excite the jealousy, of classes disposed to believe 
that man does indeed live by bread alone, and that it will bo 
smothered by an undergrowth of provincial Colleges, miscalled 
Universities, like those which have sprung up in America. It 
may be, on the other hand, that it will be wisely preserved, as 
a regulating force of higher value than ever, in a new system 


of National Education, at once the healthiest school of social 
equality and the purest fountain of intellectual honour. 
What is certain is, that it cannot be again what it was in 
bygone ages. Nevermore shall the wayworn student, his wallet 
empty, but his soul filled with a divine thirst for knowledge, 
' look down upon the city of Roger Bacon and of Ockham with 
the passionate reverence of the pilgrim, with the joy of the 
miner who has found his gold.' Nevermore shall judgments 
of the University be cited with respect in the Councils of 
Popes, or invoked by Kings to ratify great acts of State. 
Nevermore shall its Colleges be converted into officers' quarters, 
and its public Schools into legislative chambers. And yet it is 
possible — nay, it is even probable, that, having ceased to be 
an engine of the Church or an engine of the State, the occa- 
sional seat of Government, or the last asylum of a disloyal 
faction, it may continue to exercise a power more subtle but 
no less profound, as part and parcel of the national life. Not 
only the possession of unique libraries, collections, and archi- 
tectural treasures, but the sacred memories of 700 years, the 
prestige of an influence which has so deeply moulded both 
English thought and English character, the recent and mani- 
fold extension of that influence through new associations with 
the English people — these are attributes which no revolu- 
tionary decree can either destroy or create, and which true 
statesmanshij) will know how to cherish, whatever force may 
henceforth be dominant in the shifting world of English 



WOODSTOCK (18<r8) 

Gentlemen, — I have been invited by an influential body of 
Electors, whom I believe to represent a majority among you, 
to come forward as a Liberal Candidate for the Borough of 
Woodstock. Having been unable to attend the meeting from 
which that invitation proceeded, I feel it right to lose no time 
in laying before you a full statement of my political views, 
and I shall take an early opportunity of ascertaining, by 
personal conference, the sentiments of the constituency. 

I am, and have ever been, a sincere Liberal. It is to 
successive triumphs of Liberal principles over selfish interests 
and prejudices, miscalled ' Conservative,' that we owe our 
present liberties and social advancement, and it is by the light 
of these principles that we must be guided in the reforms 
yet to be accomplished. I welcome the large extension of the 
franchise effected by the Eeform Act of last session, not as 
the settlement of a troublesome question, but as a measure of 
justice to classes hitherto jealously excluded from political 
influence, and as the lever whereby a new j)ower may be 
brought to bear on legislation. That it was forced upon an 
unwilling Government by the determined attitude of the 
people, and that clause after clause, designed to neutralise its 
effect, was struck out by the ceaseless exertions of the Liberal 
Party, headed by Mr, Gladstone, is now matter of history. 
We might well be content to forget the insidious policy which 
dictated its original form, had not this policy left its mark in 
the so-called rating-clauses and other vexatious provisions, 
which must, ere long, be amended. 

It will be the first duty of the new constituencies to 


employ, resolutely and independently, the power thus placed 
in their hand. Though I might prefer, in the ahstract, a 
system of open voting, I regard the Ballot as an essential 
safeguard for the protection of electors, and the necessary 
accompaniment of Household Suffrage in the present state of 

Foremost among the questions which await the decision 
of the Eeformod Parliament is that which is now the question 
of the hour — The Disestablishment of the Irish Church. 
The injustice of maintaining a Protestant State Church in a 
community of which a large majority is Eoman Catholic was 
among the earliest of my political convictions, and I rejoice 
that Mr. Gladstone has not shrunk from challenging the 
verdict of the country upon it. That verdict cannot be 
doubtful. Such an institution is manifestly indefensible on 
principle, and, in my judgment, equally indefensible on 
grounds of expediency. 

It is said that disestablishment wUl injure the Protestant 
cause in Ireland — as if the interests of religion could ever be 
served by wrongful means, and as if Protestantism were too 
weak to hold its own on the basis of religious equality. It is 
said that it will fail to extinguish the spirit of Fenianism — as 
if the object of statesmanship were only to salve over the 
symptoms of disaffection, instead of removing its deep-seated 
causes. It is said that it will involve the downfall of the 
Church of England — as if the Church of England did not 
depend for its existence on being that which the Protestant 
Church of Ireland is not, and never has been — a National 
Church. It is said that it will endanger the foundation of 
property — as if property had any stronger foundation than 
Parliamentary enactment, and as if some of the largest 
private estates in the United Kingdom were not derived from 
the endowments of monasteries dissolved by the will of Par- 
liament. I beUeve from my heart that an act of righteous 
concihation, such as that proposed by Mr. Gladstone, will 
strengthen and not weaken the legitimate influence of Pro- 
testant zeal, will go far to disarm the reasonable discontent 


of Irish Catholics, will relieve the Church of England from a 
scandal which now weighs her down, and will render the 
proprietary titles of landlords far more secure than is possible 
so long as they are associated with the odious traditions of 
Protestant ascendancy. Whatever may he the diflflculty of 
appropriating afresh the surplus revenues of the existing 
Establishment, after due provision for vested interests, I 
regard them as a fund of which the State is entitled and 
bound to dispose for the benefit, and, if possible, with the 
consent, of the whole Irish population. 

Another source of discord in Ireland is the unsatisfactory 
relation between landlord and tenant. While I cannot re- 
cognise the claim for absolute fixity of tenure, I think the 
Legislature, having regard to the peculiar circumstances of 
Ireland, ought at least to protect the tenant against capricious 
eviction by the landlord, and to secure to him the value of un- 
exhausted improvements. 

Next to the condition of Ireland, the subject of Education, 
in the largest sense, appears to me the most urgent of those 
which call for the earnest consideration of the Liberal Party. 
Without a more efficient system of popular education, our 
efforts to grapple with crime, vice, and pauperism, must 
needs be vain, our place in the scale of nations will surely be 
lowered, and even our commercial supremacy cannot long be 
maintained. I hold it to be the duty, as well as the right, of 
the State to provide for this primary need of the poorer 
classes, with due respect for religious scruples, but with a 
paramount regard for the interests of society. If elected to 
Parhament, I should therefore support any judicious scheme 
for bringing the means of education within the reach of every 
child in every parish throughout the country. Such a scheme 
must, of course, exclude the imposition of vexatious conditions 
upon the consciences of parents in any school aided by a 
public grant. It must, at the same time, protect the rising 
generation against the consequences of parental neglect ; and 
I should not scruple to extend still further the compulsory 
principle of the Factories and Industrial School Acts. 


The education of our higher and middle classes is only 
second in importance to that of our working classes, and I 
believe we ought no longer to postj^one a thorough revision of 
our educational institutions, with a view, especially, to a better 
application of endowments and a more liberal recognition 
of new branches of knowledge. As a Graduate of the Uni- 
versity of Oxford, and as a Fellow of one of its most ancient 
Colleges, I feel a special interest, and have taken an active 
part, in recent efforts to assert the national character of our 
two older Universities. It is my conviction that by throwing 
open all Academical honours and emoluments to members of 
all denominations, by reducing the scale of necessary expenses, 
and by enlarging the course of studies to meet the require- 
ments of the age, a new life may be infused into these noble 
foundations, hitherto crippled by restrictions and privileges, 
a new impulse given to our whole system of higher education, 
and a new bond of union developed in English society by the 
construction, as it were, of a ladder of merit, reaching from its 
lowest to its highest grades. 

In Foreign Affairs, my voice would ever be for Peace, if 
not at any price, yet at the price of that menacing or meddle- 
some influence, too seldom used on the side of liberty, which 
depends on the maintenance of great armaments. I can, 
indeed, imagine circumstances under which it would be the 
duty of this country, as of old, to arm herself against an 
aggressor ; but such occasions, I am persuaded, will be of less 
nd less frequent occurrence as the rights and interests of 
people become the mainspring of international policy, in 
the meantime, I conceive that we shall best maintain friendly 
relations with foreign Powers, not by disguising our sympathy 
with the cause of political liberty on the Continent, or the 
cause of personal freedom in America, but rather by abstain- 
ing from entering into engagements which can only serve the 
purposes of dynastic ambition. I believe that we may effect 
a vast reduction in the cost of our naval and military esta- 
blishments without in any degree impairing their efficiency, 
nor do I despair of seeing the moral power of England exerted 



in bringing about a general disarmament and a permanent 
system of international arbitration. 

The question of Church Rates has, I trust, been settled by 
the adoption of Mr. Gladstone's compromise, though I should 
have been prepared to abolish that liability without reserve. 
There are other questions, however, of a more or less similar 
nature, which need to be dealt with in a like spkit. The 
secret of their solution is, in my opinion, to be found in a 
broader assertion of national rights over local or sectarian 

The forthcoming report of the Commission on Trades- 
Unions will doubtless pave the way for new legislation on the 
subject. I see but one safe principle on which the law can 
be founded. We must, on the one hand, give entire freedom 
of combination to employers and workmen for all purposes 
not criminal in their nature. On the other hand, we must 
provide stringent remedies, not only against violent outrages, 
but against coercion in every form. I feel persuaded that all 
such difficulties will be approached far more hopefully by a 
Parliament more directly representing those who have a per- 
sonal interest in thek settlement. 

There are other reforms, likely to engage a larger share 
of Parliamentary attention than heretofore, which I earnestly 
desire to promote. Such is the reform of our legal procedure, 
the reform of our public dej^artments, of our municipal 
organisation, of our charitable endowments, of our Poor-Law 
administration, of the laws regulating the descent and transfer 
of land, of the rating system, and of the licensing system. 
Such, too, is the creation of financial -boards, upon which the 
representatives of the ratepayers may sit with the magis- 
trates, and share the control of county expenditure. Upon 
all these questions, and especially upon those which imme- 
diately affect the material and moral well-being of the people, 
I should desire to follow the enlightened leadership of Mr. 
Gladstone, who, above all living statesmen, has given proofs 
of the will and capacity to subordinate class-interests to 
national interests, and has been inspired, throughout his 


political career, by a genuine sympathy with the feelings and 
wants of his countrymen. 

In conclusion, Gentlemen, I have only to assure you that, 
if you see fit to return me, I shall enter Parliament under a 
deep sense of responsibility. I have no professional or com- 
mercial objects to promote by obtaining a seat, nor any other 
personal ambition than to devote myself, heart and soul, to 
public life. While I have entire faith in Liberal principles, 
my endeavour, I trust, will ever be to carry them out in a 
spirit of moderation. In my opinion, the time has come 
when a higher statesmanship than has directed our national 
policy since the establishment of Free Trade is urgently 
required by the country. We have removed some grievances 
and many abuses, but we have not grappled with the most 
vital problems of our age. It is my highest aspiration, as it 
has been my constant aim for years past in the study of 
politics, to bear a part, however humble, in so great a work. 
It is this privilege, and this alone, which I now solicit at your 
hands, fully conscious of its magnitude, but sustained by an 
earnest hope that, with your encouragement and support, I 
shall not prove wholly unworthy of the confidence which you 
may repose in me. 

I am, Gentlemen, 

Your obedient servant, 

Geokge C. Beodrick. 

Bear Hotel, August 27, 1868. 


Gentlemen, — An immediate Dissolution of Parliament being 
announced by Her Majesty's command, I come amongst you 
once more to ask your support in vindicating Liberal princi- 
ples and the independence of your Borough. 

During the General Election of 1868, I laid before you a 
full statement of my political views. If I now address you 
more briefly, it is because I have nothing to retract, and 
nothing to alter, of what I then deliberately advanced. The 



experience of five eventful years has but confirmed my 
conviction that a Liberal policy is the only policy whereby 
the power and progress of this, or any other nation, can be 
permanently maintained. The claim of Mr. Gladstone's 
Administration to the renewed confidence of the people is 
founded on no vague professions, but on a series of past 
achievements which have been equalled by no previous 
Government in our Parliamentary history. The Irish Church 
Act, the Irish Land Act, the Elementary Education Act, the 
Endowed Schools Act, the Act which swept away Eeligious 
Tests in the Universities, the Ballot Act, the Trades-Union 
Act, the Mines Eegulation Act, the Judicature Act, the Aboli- 
tion of Purchase in the Army, the extension of Promotion by 
Merit to all branches of the Public Service, and the restora- 
tion of friendly relations between Great Britain and the 
United States — these are the enduring monuments of a 
Liberal policy, under Mr. Gladstone's leadership ; and of 
these measures there is scarcely one which the Conservative 
Opposition has not exerted itself vigorously to defeat or to 
mar. It would be too much to say that no defects remain to 
be amended in some of the Acts which have been passed 
under this obstructive pressure, or that no mistakes of judg- 
ment have been committed in carrying out administrative 
reforms. But such mistakes, few and slight compared with 
the great benefits which Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues 
have conferred upon the country, have been due to no un- 
worthy motives, but rather to an exclusive zeal for the 
national interest, to guard which is the highest duty of a 
Liberal Ministry. 

In his recent Address to the Electors of Greenwich, Mr. 
Gladstone has pointed out that, within the last five years, 
taxes have been remitted to the extent of 12,500,000/., the 
National Debt has been reduced by more than 20,000,000/., 
a further saving of 9,000,000/. has enabled the Government 
to purchase the Telegraphs for the State, the ' Alabama ' in- 
demnity has been paid out of the revenue, and a surplus of 
at least 5,000,000/. may be anticipated for the coming year. 

E E 


Out of this surplus, aided by adjustments of existing taxes, he 
proposes to abolish the Income Tax, and at the same time 
avows a confident beUef that it may be possible to lighten 
the burdens on articles of popular consumption, and to effect 
the relief, coupled with the reform, of local taxation. I need 
hardly say that, having entire faith in Mr, Gladstone's finan- 
cial ability, I should, if elected, heartily support him in 
carrying out these beneficent objects. 

The other questions indicated by Mr. Gladstone as de- 
manding the early attention of Parliament are — the Municipal 
Government of the Metropolis, University Eeform, the Licens- 
ing Laws, the laws respecting the descent, transfer, and 
occupation of Land, the Game Laws, the laws affecting the 
relations of Employers and Employed, and the laws which 
regulate Local Government. The last four of these questions 
possess a special interest for the constituency of Woodstock, 
containing, as it does, a very large proportion of agricultural 
labourers. I shall, therefore, make no apology for quoting 
at length the statesmanlike and generous language in which 
Mr. Gladstone speaks of this class : — 

' Of all the changes marking the present day, there is 
none which I view with more heartfelt satisfaction than the 
progressive rise of wages in the agricultural districts. I view 
this rise as the natural and proper, though long-delayed, 
result of economic laws ; as the removal of something like a 
national discredit ; as carrying with it a great addition to the 
stock, never too abundant, of human happiness ; and as a 
new guarantee for the stability of the Throne and institutions 
of the country.' 

While I adopt every word of this declaration^ I venture 
to go a step further, and to submit that, since unwise legisla- 
tion has concurred with economic laws in depressing the 
condition of agricultural labourers, wise legislation may 
properly concur with economic laws in raising that condition. 
It is for this reason, and because no class ought to be excluded 
from representation in the national council, that I desire to 
see Household Suffrage established in the counties. When 


this has been accompHshed, ParHament may be expected to 
deal in a new spirit with the law of Primogeniture and the 
custom of Entail, with the Game Laws, with the Enclosure 
Laws, with the law of Landlord and Tenant, with the law of 
Master and Servant, with the law of Conspiracy, with the 
system of County and Parish Administration, and with a 
variety of other questions in which agricultural labourers 
are nearly concerned. 

Holding these convictions, and having a hearty sympathy 
with all the efforts of agricultural labourers to better their 
social position by legitimate means, I rely with entire confi- 
dence on their united support in the approaching contest. I 
am, however, no advocate of Socialistic measures, nor will 
I be party to an agitation whereby class may be set against 
class. On the contrai-y, I maintain that farmers as well as 
labourers, and landlords as well as farmers, have been to 
some extent the victims of legislative errors in former times ; 
that all have a common interest in developing to the utmost 
the resources of the land, with due security of tenure ; and 
that, in the end, all will profit by the prosperity which now 
at last appears to be reaching the home of the labourer. 

In conclusion. Gentlemen, I would earnestly impress upon 
you that union is strength, and that under the protection of 
the Ballot your votes are your own. Let us combine modera- 
tion in speech with unflinching energy in action, remember- 
ing that such a contest as ours will be eagerly watched by 
friends and enemies throughout England, and resolving 
that nothing said or done on our part shall impair the effect 
of our victory. 

I remain. Gentlemen, 

Your Friend and faithful Servant, 

George C. Brodrick. 

Mcrton College, Oxford, Jan. 27, 1874. 

E E 2 



Gentlemen, — At a grave crisis in the political history of this 
country, we respond to a hearty invitation from the Liberals 
of Monmouthshire, and offer ourselves as candidates for the 
representation of your county. 

Lord Beaconsfield has challenged the verdict of the country 
on his Foreign Policy, and by that policy his Government 
must be mainly judged. We condemn its principles, and 
deplore many of its results. We are not advocates of Peace 
at any price, but we see nothing but evil in that menacing 
and meddlesome influence which depends on warlike demon- 
strations, and has actually involved us of late in two un- 
righteous, because unnecessary, wars. The question is not, 
as the Prime Minister would have you believe, whether the 
' Imperial character of this realm ' shall be maintained. In 
common with all Liberals, we are prepared to uphold the 
integrity of the Empire, which Liberal statesmen have done 
BO much to strengthen, by giving the Colonies the privileges 
of self-government, and by studying to remove every just 
cause of discontent in Ireland. In common with all Liberals, 
we claim for England — not ' ascendancy,' indeed, but a just 
share of authority in the councils of Eul'ope. But we con- 
ceive that England will best retain that authority, not by 
vain boasts of her power, still less by secret conventions and 
reckless annexations, but rather by deserving the confidence 
of foreign nations, and setting them a noble example of true 
national greatness, founded on constitutional liberty. 

The results of the opposite policy have certainly not been 
encouraging. If the object of the Government was to check 
the aggrandisement of Russia, the result has been that Russia 
has obtained nearly all that she coveted. If their object was 
to preserve the integrity of Turkey, the result has been that 
Turkey is dismembered. If their object was to avoid incum- 
bering this country with the protection of Christian nationali- 
ties in Eastern Europe, the result has been to incumber it 


with the protection, and even the mihtary defence, of Maho- 
medan tribes in Western Asia. Nor is this all. J3y move- 
ments purporting to be defensive, but really aggressive, they 
have converted the Afghan nation from a natural ally into a 
deadly enemy, and have vastly increased both the cost and 
the responsibility of Colonial Government in South Africa. 

Experience has ever shown that what is called ' a spirited 
Foreign Policy ' means a feeble and reactionary Home Pohcy. 
Certain reactionary projects of Lord Beaconsfield's Govern- 
ment were, happily, defeated by the Liberal Party. Its Home 
Policj' has since been almost a blank, and nothing wliatever 
is promised for the future. An extension of the County 
Franchise, a thorough revision of the Laws regulating the 
descent, tenure, and transfer of land, a comprehensive reform 
of County Government and Local Taxation, a settlement of 
the Burial Question on the basis of religious equality — these 
are measures which may be expected from a Liberal Govern- 
ment, and from a Liberal Government alone. Such measures, 
together with all others which may conduce to moral, social, 
or material progress, will receive our warmest support. 

We observe that leading members of the present Govern- 
ment look forward to an early reduction of the national 
expenditure ; and we gladly agree with them. It will be re- 
duced when an economical Ministry succeeds the present 
extravagant Administration ; then, and not before. It is 
vain to expect economy from a Conservative Government, 
and especially from one which is pledged to a policy of rest- 
less Imperialism. Its sympathies will always be with the 
consumers, rather than with the producers, of taxes ; its 
traditional prejudices are opposed to retrenchment in the 
Army, Navy, and Civil Service ; and its partiality for class 
interests renders it incapable of resisting the manifold tempta- 
tions of jobbery. It is, therefore, no matter for surprise that 
the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, having inherited a 
surplus of six millions from Mr. Gladstone, should bequeath 
to his successor eight millions of accumulated deficits, to 
remain for the next five vears as a burden on the national 


finances. For the means of clearing off this heavy liability 
we must look to a revival of trade, following on the adoj^tion 
of a less wasteful policy at home and a less ambitious policy 

Such, Gentlemen, are the principles which we, if elected, 
should endeavour to support, in a spirit of moderation and 
independence, but as loyal members of the Liberal Party, 
It is hardly needful to add that we should regard the interests 
of this county as possessing a special claim to our attention. 

We regret that it will be impossible for us to visit most of 
the electors personally, but we hope to have opportunities of 
stating our views more fully at public meetings. Let us 
earnestly impress upon you, in conclusion, that union is 
strength, and that, under the protection of the Ballot, the 
vote of the humblest elector is his own. It is our desire to 
conduct the contest without bitterness, on strictly public 
grounds, and no effort shall be spared on our part to deserve 
the confidence which you may repose in us. 
We are, Gentlemen, 

Your obedient Servants, 

George C. Brodrick. 

Cornelius M. Warmington. 

Liberal Committee Boom, Newport, March 18, 1880. 






To the Editor of the Times. Fchruartj 23, 1803 

Sir,— Dr. Pusey is a bold as well as an orthodox man, or he 
never would have ventured into the open arena of discussion 
with those for whom the anathemas of the University pulpit 
and the citations of the Vice-Chancellor's Court have no 
terrors. It is scarcely possible, however, that he can have 
consulted his two allies, or ' friends,' as he now calls them, 
before taking this hazardous step. Had he done so, they 
would surely have recalled to his mind circumstances which 
would have deterred him from making the public the con- 
fidant of his motives and intentions. It is true that he 
' abstains from saying anything except as to the abstract 
principle,' but abstract principles are just the weapons which 
Dr. Pusey's enemies would wish him to choose, and which 
his ' friends ' should keep out of his hands. 

It appears, Sir, you were mistaken in supposing that Dr. 
Pusey ' distrusts the power of God's truth ' (by which I fear 
he means Dr. Pusey's truth) ' to abide the most searching 
inquiry.' Only the inquirer must be a man after Dr. Pusey's 
own heart, for ' it is quite another question whether all indi- 
viduals are judges of truth.' It startles one a little to hear 
that Dr. Pusey himself has read, for forty years, ' more anti- 
Christian writings than any, probably, of your readers.' It 
may be the part of valour to state this, but is it the part of 
discretion ? Does it not attract undue attention to the fact 
that Dr. Pusey's first publication was on the state of religious 
opinion in Germany, and that it betrayed a close acquaintance 
with neologian writers, which was mistaken by many for 


sympathy with them ? Of course, the Doctor has now out- 
grown these youthful errors, and finds, what every schoolboy 
is taught to say, as though it were the fruit of his own ex- 
perience, 'that all deeper thought and criticism uniformly 
tends to the support of the faith.' But does it not occur to 
him that the honest search after the truth which has made 
him a bulwark of Anglicanism may be innocently followed by 
others, and that the shipwreck of individual faith which he 
mentions as a consequence of false teaching, may in reality 
be a consequence of that teaching which, trammelling inquiry 
with foregone conclusions, puts the interests of orthodoxy 
first, and those of truth second ? 

But then, says Dr. Pusey, ' I cannot imagine anything 
more demoralising than that clergymen should profess their 
beUef in great fundamental truths, and assert the contrary.' 
When I read this passage. Sir, I confess I thought that it must 
be the preface to a solemn disclaimer of the doctrines laid down 
in ' Tract XC.,' and that Dr. Pusey was about to sacrifice his old 
friend. Dr. Newman, to his new ' friends,' Drs. Ogilvie and 
Heurtley. Eemembering the reproaches that had been heaped 
on clergymen of blameless life and saintly piety for remaining 
in the Church of England when their hearts were with the 
Church of Eome, and on Dr. Pusey himself for not following 
his own principles to their logical results, I interpreted these 
words too hastily, and fancied they must be meant to prepare 
our minds for a confession, when, in fact, they were the 
basis of an accusation. That accusation is one which, hghtly 
as it is made, will have to be substantiated by proof in a 
court of justice, and I cannot but think. Sir, that it would be 
in better taste to postpone it till Professor Jowett has been 
fairly tried. 

This suicidal argument discloses the weakest point of all 
in Dr. Pusey's position. We have it now on his own authority 
that he is prosecuting the Greek Professor for an offence 
against ecclesiastical law, and not against Academical disci- 
pline. The premisses are that Professor Jowett has been 
party to a * systematic attempt to revolutionise the Church 


of England,' and that ' duty to God, to the Church, and to 
the souls of men," compels Dr. Pusey to enter the lists against 
him. The conclusion is — not that Dr. Pusey should with- 
stand him with the learning amassed by forty years' study of 
infidel writings, for that method of warfare is tedious and 
uncertain ; not that he should proceed against him before an 
ecclesiastical court, for to that jurisdiction Dr. Pusey admits 
that Mr. Jowett is not amenable — but that he should deliver 
him over to the secular arm of a tribunal which has no power 
to protect the Church of England, which has nothing to do 
with the rights and habilities of clergymen, and which will, 
in all probability, decline to take cognisance of the matter. 
I have read the statutes upon which Dr. Pusey and his 
' friends ' rely again and again, and I am thoroughly satisfied 
that they were never designed, and cannot be strained, to 
touch Professor Jowett's case at all. If they could, there is 
not a laj' Master of Arts resident in Oxford who could venture 
to publish in London a book like that by which Dr. Pusey 
first made himself known. I have too much confidence in 
the ability and discretion of Professor Bernard to believe that 
this suit will be allowed to proceed, but I am quite certain 
that such a claim of jurisdiction will not be recognised for 
one moment in the Queen's Bench. But the Queen's Bench 
is not sitting, nor will it sit again until after Easter. Is it 
possible. Sir, that Dr. Pusey, who professes to put ' good 
faith ' above ' theological truth,' can have selected this time 
for the prosecution on purpose to evade the lawful interference 
of that Court ? 

Let Dr. Pusey reflect on these two things : first, that the 
decision, whatever it may be, cannot bind the Church, or 
any one who has not the misfortune to reside within the pre- 
cincts of the University cursed by the surveillance of this 
modern Holy Office ; secondly, that the University itself will 
not be bound by it for a day. If it should be ever so oppres- 
sive, it will not be the solemn judgment of the University, 
but of a coterie appointed by the Proctors for the time being. 
Next year anti-Puseyite Proctors may be in office, a new set 


of Delegates with kindred sentiments may be nominated, and, 
as there is no Statute of Limitations, Dr. Pusey himself may 
be brought under their ban for the sermons and books which 
have already incurred the censure of the University, unless 
the memory of that earlier work, which he has since, no doubt, 
committed to the flames, should then be revived in extenua- 
tion of his offence. I can well understand, Sir, that with the 
consciousness of all this, and the recollection of those facts 
which were pointed out in your article of Saturday last. Dr. 
Pusey feels it ' painful to have to act against one with whom, 
in this place, we must be brought into contact ' ; but I cannot 
understand what service he conceives himself to be rendering 
the Church by doing violence to that honourable feeling. If 
he turns Professor Jowett out of Oxford, he will turn him 
into some diocese in the Church of England, where (under the 
provisions of the Church Discipline Act, section 20) he can 
no longer be molested in respect of a work published more 
than two years ago. 

' Prosecution is not persecution,' insists Dr. Pusey, as 
though he had not kept back Professer Jowett's salary before 
he invoked 'the majesty of justice,' meaning thereby the 
Small Debts Court over which the Vice-Chancellor presides. 
Of course it is not. Expulsion from one's home and the 
scene of one's cherished labours is not imprisonment ; the 
loss of livelihood is not torture. This is an argument which 
has grown grey in the service of bigotry, and against which, 
it appears, Sydney Smith exhausted in vain the armoury of 
his scathing wit. Where he failed I cannot hope to succeed ; 
but, though I should despair of convincing Dr. Pusey by 
reason that the use of any tactics can be illegitimate in 
defence of the faith, I am more sanguine of influencing him 
by authority. If I might presume to suggest to so learned 
a man an admu-able precedent for conduct in a religious 
crisis, I should direct him, not to the history of Germany, 
but to that of Judaea. I would say to him : Put aside all 
those heterodox authors whose insidious sophistry may have 
left your faith unshaken, but has certainly warped your 


judgment and perverted your sense of justice. Go to the 
New Testament, and read there the advice which a master in 
Israel, an accompHshed Hebraist, a doctor of divinity, and 
theological professor in his way, gave to those who were for 
hushing up and stifling by a prosecution certain strange 
opinions, which happened in that case to be true : ' Eefrain 
from these men, and let them alone ; for if this counsel or 
this work be of men, it will come to naught ; but if it be of 
God, ye cannot overthrow it : lest haply ye be found even to 
fight against God.' 

I am, Sir, 

Your obedient Servant, 

A Protestant. 

OCTOBEE 8, 1868 

Electors of Woodstock, — I feel it a high honour, as well as 
a great pleasure, to stand before you to-night as the Liberal 
candidate for this borough. As our Chairman has observed, 
tliis is the first time that I have addressed a public meeting 
in your Town-hall, but the kind reception which I have just 
received proves to me — indeed, my own feelings tell me — that 
I am no longer a stranger in Woodstock. It is now more 
than six weeks since I commenced my canvass, and during 
this period I have personally visited and conferred with the 
greater number of the electors. Perhaps it is never very 
wise to speak too definitely of results in such cases, but I 
have no hesitation in assuring you that I have met with all 
the encouragement that I could have expected ; and I am 
now in a position to state publicly, and without reserve, that, 
come what may, I shall certainly go to the poll. I believe some 
of our opponents complain that I have come to disturb what 
they are pleased to call the peace of the borough. We have 
all heard of false prophets who cried ' Peace, Peace,' where 
there was no peace ; and I leave you to judge whether these 
gentlemen do not labour under a like delusion. But I shall 


not condescend to answer such a charge. I hold that any 
man who aspires to be a member of Parliament has a right 
to offer himself to any constituency, and to challenge the 
opinion of the electors on his political sentiments and per- 
sonal claims. The mere fact, of which our Chairman has 
reminded you, that the number of electors in this borough 
has been more than trebled by the Eeform Act, is surely 
enough to justify a contest, if any justification were needed. 

I do not think the importance of this fact has yet been 
fully realised. Lord Palmerston, being once asked what he 
believed would be the consequence of a large extension of the 
franchise, made a reply which is worth remembering. He 
said, borrowing a figure-of-speech from the theatre : ' I don't 
believe the actors will be much changed, but they will play 
to the gallery instead of playing to the pit and boxes.' He 
meant, I suppose, that, instead of consulting the wishes and 
interests of the upper and middle classes. Parliament would 
thenceforth have to consult the wishes and interests of the 
whole nation. Now, I go further than Lord Palmerston. I 
think, not only the style of playing, but the actors themselves, 
will be greatly changed, and ought to be greatly changed. 
New measures require new men, and it is not to be expected 
that persons trained in the old school of politics should be 
equal to all the exigencies of the critical time which is coming. 
When the railways superseded the stage-coaches, engine- 
drivers were not elected from the class of coachmen ; and I 
must say that, judging by his Address, if Mr. Barnett were 
about to drive a political engine m the new Parh'ament, I 
should not like to be a passenger by the train. 

I regard this as a very momentous crisis in our national 
history, and I believe the future historian will date its com- 
mencement from the death of Lord Palmerston. Lord 
Palmerston was a most remarkable man, but he was no 
Eeformer ; and not the least remarkable of his qualities was 
his power of lulling to sleep the political spirit and conscience 
of the nation, so that he managed to stave off during his own 
lifetime the question of Reform, with all the other questions 


which Eeform was sure to force on. But the calm which 
reigned under his Administration was but a deceptive calm — 

The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below, 

and we have now to deal with difficulties which he only post- 
poned. On Lord Palmerston's death Lord Eussell succeeded 
him, with Mr. Gladstone for his Chancellor of Exchequer. 
An honest, though perhaps too moderate, Eeform Bill was at 
once introduced, and would have enfranchised a large propor- 
tion of the working classes. It was defeated by a coalition of 
the Tories with a disloyal section of the Liberal Party, who 
denounced it as a ' degradation of the suifrage,' a ' transfer 
of power ' from the educated to the ignorant masses, a scheme 
for ' swamping the constituencies,' as if with the refuse of 
the population, and a downward step towards the lowest 
depth of all — Household Suffrage. Lord Eussell and Mr. 
Gladstone thereupon sacrificed office to principle, and were 
replaced by Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli, who as promptly 
sacrificed principle to office. Convinced by the great meetings 
held all over the country, and by the Hyde Park riots, that 
it was unsafe to trifle with the people, they yielded to fear 
what they would not yield to justice. They brought forward, 
indeed, at first, a make-believe Eeform Bill so ludicrously 
inadequate that some fancied Mr. Disraeli must have sunk 
into a state of hopeless imbecility ; but it was only put out as 
a feeler, and qiiickly set aside for another measure containing 
the principle of Household Sufi'rage. That measure was 
studiously cumbered with vexatious clauses designed to 
neutraHse its effect, and keep the power in the hands of the 
upper classes ; but these disappeared one by one under the 
assaults of the Liberal Party, and the result is a highly 
democratic Eeform Act. It has often been said that, 
throughout all these transactions, there was no fixed principle 
in the policy of Mr. Disraeli and his friends. That seems to 
me an entire mistake. There was a fixed principle, and that 
principle was a determination to retain place at any cost "of 
honour. I have never been a])le to understand how English 


noblemen and gentlemen could sit beside Mr. Disraeli and 
be parties to a course so utterly profligate ; still less can I 
understand how they can now stand up without blushing, 
and pledge themselves never to consent to this or that, and 
expect the world to believe them. And now, having taken 
credit for granting Reform, of which they hate the very name, 
the Conservatives are doing their best to make it nugatory 
by what they call ' influence,' but I call bribery and intimida- 
tion. I remember a Eadical friend of mine, who sometimes 
uses strong language, remarking last year : ' That fellow 
Disraeli, who is as' clever as the very devil, thinks he is going 
to manipulate Democracy. Now, I say, take his Democracy, 
and hang his manipulation.' I adopt the spirit of this advice, 
though not the form of expression. It is our business to 
defeat these base tactics, and convert that into a reality which 
was designed to be a sham. It ia to bear my part in this 
work that I have come forward, and it is to bear their part 
in it that so many good Liberals are assembled here to-night. 
And now let us consider for a few minutes the question 
which has become the first battle-ground between the two 
parties — the question of the Irish Church. I own that I 
have so long been convinced of the necessity for Disestablish- 
ment that I feel a certain surprise, not unmixed with amuse- 
ment, when I hear it treated as a new idea. Some, however, 
ask why Mr. Gladstone should have raised the issue just now, 
and accuse him of having done so for mere party motives. 
No man is more proof against such a charge than Mr. Glad- 
stone, and I think I can give a conclusive answer to it. In 
the first place, the question was not started by Mr. Gladstone. 
It was the Government who proclaimed, with a flourish of 
trumpets, ' a truly liberal policy ' for Ireland, and Mr. Glad- 
stone, unless prepared to accept it, was bound to produce a 
counter-policy, as he actually did. But, again, with a General 
Election in prospect, how could Mr. Gladstone have concealed 
his mature conviction that it was time to abolish the Irish 
Church, and what would have been said — and justly said, too 
— had he masked his design, when an appeal was made to 


the new constituencies, and ' sprung ' it upon the next Par- 
liament ? In approaching the merits of the case, I dismiss 
at once the historical argument, upon which so much learning 
has been expended, for the simple reason that, from my point 
of view, it is quite irrelevant. I shall be prepared, on any 
proper occasion, to show how thoroughly hollow it is, but I 
must decline to enter upon it now, because I hold that it is a 
statesman's duty to be guided by practical, and not by his- 
torical, considerations. The maintenance of the Irish Church 
is not a point to be settled, like a right of way, by title-deeds, 
but a grave question of Imperial policy, to be determined by 
a reference to facts. Now, the facts are that, for two centuries 
at least, the vast majority of the Irish people have been 
Eoman Catholics, that persistent but vain attempts have 
been made to convert them by persecution and persuasion, 
but that at this moment there are six Roman Catholics to 
one member of the Established Church in th§ whole popula- 
tion, and twenty or thirty to one among the poor. Yet the 
rich minority has all the ecclesiastical endowments, while the 
poor majority is left to shift for itself. Is this right ? is it 
just ? is it Christian ? No unprejudiced man will venture to 
affirm that it is ; but I will say more — it is not safe. I know 
it has been said that Eoman Catholic laymen in Ireland do 
not regard it as a grievance. But the very people who allege 
this are the same who alleged that there was no popular 
demand for Reform, till the railings of Hyde Park fell down 
and the Government surrendered at discretion. The memorial 
presented last session from more than 900 Roman Catholic 
noblemen and gentlemen disposes of this statement, which is 
one calculated to provoke agitation. I sincerely rejoice that 
the Irish people have not yet demanded the abolition of the 
Irish Church with arms in their hands. I believe they have 
not done so because they rely on your sense of justice, and 
the action of your representatives in the new Parliament ; 
and such is my own confidence in justice, that I doubt not 
that Disestablishment will be followed by a gradual but real 
diminution of discontent in Ireland. The absolute necessity 


of doing something, with this object, has been acknowledged 
by the Government in what Mr. Lowe described as their 
' hot-potato poHcy ' of levelHng up ; but the plan of bribing 
the Eoman Catholics, which they proposed, has been properly 
rejected by the country. Mr. Gladstone's proposal is founded 
on the very opposite principle. As it is impossible to endow 
all denominations alike, he recommends that all should be 
disendowed alike, due provision being made for vested interests, 
and that, henceforth, the ecclesiastical settlement of Ireland 
should rest on the basis of religious equality. 

No one pretends to doubt that, if the question were new, 
this would be the right solution of it ; but a thousand objec- 
tions are put forward to show, either that it is too soon, or 
that it is too late, or that it would be inconsistent with some- 
thing else, to adopt this solution. It is asserted, for instance, 
that the Irish Church is an integral part of the English 
Church, so that both must stand or fall together. Why, how 
is it possible for two institutions of the same kind to be more 
radically different ? The one is national, the other anti- 
national ; the one professes, and not without reason, to be 
the Church of the poor, the other is notoriously, and almost 
exclusively, the Church of the rich. It is as if the crew of a 
fine seaworthy vessel were urged to quit her and place them- 
selves in a leaky boat, just about to founder. Not that I 
would deny that our Church is in danger. The Church is in 
danger, and ever must be, so long as her rulers, blind to 
the signs of their own times, and forgetful of the corruptions 
which threaten her safety from within, persist in identifying 
her with the injustice and tyranny of Protestant ascendency 
in Ireland. But then, it is said that such a concession to 
Popery will be a fatal blow to the Protestant religion. What ! 
is Protestantism, which, three centuries ago, wrested whole 
kingdoms from the dominion of Eome by the might of truth 
alone — is Protestantism now so weak that it needs exclusive 
protection, and fears a battle with Popery on equal terms ? 
I believe, on the contrary, with Macaulay, that error, though 
no match for truth alone, will often prove more than a match 


for truth and power together ; and that Protestantism in 
Ireland, reheved from State patronage, will be more powerful 
for good than ever. I confess I am filled with amazement 
and shame when I hear, not only lawyers, but divines, speak- 
ing of the Irish Establishment as if its existence were bound 
up with the interests of the Protestant religion — confounding a 
Church which is a mere creation of law, a mere engine of State 
policy, which Parliament established, and which Parliament 
can destroy, with that spiritual Church which is not of this 
world, which is founded in the hearts of men, and against 
which, as Scripture tells us, the gates of hell shall not pre- 
vail. As for the plea that it ought to be maintained as a 
' Missionary Church,' I say that is the very reason why it 
should not be an Established Church. A Missionary Church 
ought to depend entirely on voluntary effort, and I never 
heard of a heathen population being required to support the 
mission sent out to convert it. But I will not dwell further 
on these objections. They have been answered over and over 
again by abler pens and tongues than mine, and they have 
no force against the broader view which I take of the whole 
question. This is no question of precedence between rival 
Churches — it is a question of Imperial statesmanship, of 
conciliating or alienating Ireland, perhaps of cementing or 
dissolving the Union. You will never heal Irish discontent ; 
you will never quench the Fenian spirit ; you will never 
check the tide of emigration, or attract an influx of capital ; 
you will never get rid of the danger which menaces you from 
that new Ireland beyond the Atlantic, until you have shown 
before the face of Europe and the world that you are resolved 
to do justice to our Irish fellow-subjects ; and you will never 
convince the world of this while the Irish Church stands. 

There are many other questions which must soon engage 
the attention of a Reformed Parliament, but which I will not 
weary you by discussing to-night. Education, however, in 
its largest sense, is a subject which cannot be altogether 
passed over. First, there is popular, or primary education, 
which has yet to be brought within the reach of every child 


in every parish throughout England. I was present at the 
Manchester Conference last spring, and I entirely adopt the 
general conclusions at which that conference arrived. We 
shall have, I am convinced, to modify our present system of 
voluntary school-management by introducing the principle 
of rating. We must, also, by making the Conscience Clause 
universal, provide against the imposition of any vexatious 
condition on the children of Nonconformist parents. I own 
that, like Mr. W. E. Forster, I am not yet prepared to go 
the whole length of compulsory school-attendance, which can 
only be enforced in the last resort by the pohceman ; but I 
foresee that vigorous measures will be needed, and applied, 
to check the spread of juvenile crime and vagrancy. Middle- 
class education, too, needs a thorough reform, especially in 
respect of endowments, now wasted, or worse than wasted, 
but available for the educational requirements of this class. 
Nor do I see why our great public schools, like Eton and 
Winchester, with their large revenues, should be altogether 
closed against boys of superior ability from the humbler 
ranks of society. University reform is a still larger subject. 
I have long laboured, with my friend Mr. Sidgwick, who is 
here to-night, and other Oxford reformers, to open both our 
ancient Universities to students of all classes and all deno- 
minations, encouraging at the same tiine new branches of 
study, and greatly reducing the necessary expenses. When 
these great changes shall have been accomplished in our 
several educational institutions, I look forward to seeing what 
I may call a national system of promotion by merit, enabling 
a poor man's son, if he be clever enough, to rise, step by 
step, to the highest eminence in Church or State. At the 
great question of taxation and expenditure I can but glance 
in passing. This is not the place or time for statistical dis- 
quisitions, but I regard the financial extravagance of Tory 
Governments as having been established by conclusive proofs. 
Now, I ask myself, and I ask you, why this should be so. I 
beUeve there are two sufficient answers. In the first place, 
the sympathies of Tory Ministers are with the consumers, 


and not with the i^roducers, of taxes ; they have a natural 
propensity for spending other people's money with generosity, 
like the man who was so affected by a charity sermon that he 
plunged his hand into his neighbour's pocket, and poured the 
contents of it into the plate. But there is another reason. 
A Tory Government is ever, and I trust ever will be, a weak 
Government, and weak Governments cannot resist the pres- 
sure of demands from all sides on the public purse, lest they 
should lose the support of wavering adherents. Mr. Glad- 
stone, on the contrary, will be at the head of a strong 
Government — and, what is more, he will have the people of 
England at his back — and I feel no doubt that he will make 
a vigorous and successful effort to cut down our overgrown 
Estimates. And now. Gentlemen, I must pass in silence over 
many topics mentioned in my Address, such as those which 
would fall under the head of social legislation, and the whole 
province of foreign policy. I will do Lord Stanley the justice to 
say that his administration of foreign affairs has been worthy 
of a Liberal Minister, but I question whether even Lord 
Stanley would have been able to withstand the clamour of 
his party for the recognition of the Slave States — a step 
which, if taken, would have plunged us into the most wicked 
and disastrous of wars. It is the less necessary that I should 
range over this great field, because I trust what I have 
already said, and published in my Address, has satisfied you 
that I am a sound and thoroughgoing Liberal by conviction 
and study ; and when a man is that, if he is not too old or 
proud to learn, he has within himself a key to unlock most of 
the problems which he is likely to encounter. Moreover, I 
have professed myself, and now profess myself again, a loyal 
adherent of Mr. Gladstone — a man who, in political know- 
ledge, has never been matched since the days of Sir Eobert 
Peel ; who, in political courage, is far superior to Sir Eobert 
Peel, and who, in the highest qualification for government — 
an enlightened sympathy with the wants of all classes — stands 
alone among the statesmen of our time. 

And this brings me to what, after all, is the grand differ- 


ence between the Liberal and Conservative Party at the pre- 
sent juncture. Eead the addresses issued and the speeches 
made by Conservative candidates, and you will find them full 
of apology and negation. They tell you, glibly enough, 
what they will not do ; but when you ask what they will do, 
they have nothing to say. Talk of Conservative policy ! — they 
have no policy but to wait for something to turn up. What 
President Lincoln said of General McClellan is not inapplic- 
able to Mr. Disraeli : ' That fellow is always talking of his 
plans, but I'll be hanged if I believe that he has any plans at 
all.' After the experience of the last two years, how can any 
one speak of Conservative principles ? Prejudices, passions, 
liarty-spirit, they may have, but principles they have none ; 
and this is the fact they would vainly endeavour to disguise 
by adopting the new-fangled name of ' Constitutionalists.' 
Constitutionalists, indeed ! — why, if there be any characteristic 
of our Constitution, it is that it has no such limitation as 
Conservatives would fix, but has grown with the growth, 
strengthened with the strength, and expanded with the ex- 
pansive energies of the English people. No ! the Conserva- 
tives of our own day have no longer any faith to rally them. 
They have no faith in themselves or their leader : and there 
I cannot blame them. They have no faith in truth, or they 
would not be afraid to leave Protestantism' face to face with 
Popery in Ireland. They have no faith in justice, or they 
would not desi)air of pacifying Ireland by a righteous act of 
conciliation. They have no faith in progress, in the onward 
march of civilisation, or in the ultimate triumph of good over 
evil, and are inspired by no hope of a happier future reserved 
for the toihng and suffering masses of mankind. There is 
but one thing in which they appear to have faith, and in that 
their faith is unlimited. I mean their own power to work 
upon the vices and weakness of human nature, by corrupting 
and intimidating those whom they pretend to have delibe- 
rately enfranchised. Thank God, we Liberals have a nobler 
and more hopeful creed ! To us Eeform was no ' leap in the 
dark,' for we had long foreseen it, and striven to bring it 


about, not only as a measure of justice to classes so long 
and so jealously excluded from power, but as a new lever for 
beneficent legislation. To us the future is not clouded with 
visions of Democratic violence ending in national ruin, but 
rather, bright with fresh hopes of progress, of improvement, 
of a national unity such as has never been realised in the 
lifetime of any of us. We look forward to questions hitherto 
neglected being viewed in a new light, and treated in a new 
spirit — to all that concerns the happiness of the people being 
far more earnestly considered than heretofore. But let us 
not deceive ourselves. Before we can grasp these results we 
have a very hard battle to fight. That battle is being fought 
even now in almost every constituency throughout the United 
Kingdom, and we here in Woodstock have no mean part in it 
allotted to us. You know, and I know, and the world knows, 
the formidable nature of the influence which must be over- 
come before we can vindicate — as vindicate we shall — the inde- 
pendence of this Borough. We shall need all our energy and 
all our courage to win the crown of victory. But we do not 
stand alone : public opinion is with us, the spirit of the age is 
with us, and I, for one, feel that I am fighting before the 
eyes of all my countrymen. Believe me, I have undertaken 
this contest in no presumptuous spirit ; I know my own 
weakness, but I know also the sustaining power of a good 
cause. I rely on the untiring support of the gentlemen 
round me ; I rely on the hearty and vigorous efforts of those 
who now hear me, and I feel within myself a deep assurance 
that I shall not fight in vain. 


My deak Sir, — It is seldom wise for a clergyman to descend 
from his pulpit, where he may dogmatise without fear of 
refutation, into the free and open lists of political controversy. 
It is hardly ever desirable for a non-elector to meddle with a 


contested election, unless where a special appeal has been 
made to him. 

In the letter which you have recently addressed to the 
electors of AVoodstock, you have committed both these acts of 
indiscretion, without any excuse that I am able to perceive. 
The speeches on which you comment were delivered, not at 
Woodstock, but at Abingdon, and your reply will have the 
effect of making them known to some persons who might 
otherwise never have heard them. Nor do you confine your- 
self to the subject of those speeches ; on the contrai-y, you 
volunteer general advice to your readers on their political 
duties, and do not scruple to launch out into personalities. 
You plead, in justification of your interference, that the Irish 
Church is ' emphatically an ecclesiastical and clerical ques- 
tion ' ; but I am at a loss to understand how this presump- 
tuous statement can warrant your flippant reference to the 
Ballot. You further plead ' a sense of duty,' arising from 
the circumstance that you ' commenced your ministry as 
Curate of the parish of Woodstock, and have been more or 
less connected, almost ever since, with the Borough.' You 
omit to mention what, however, is a material fact in the case — 
that you were also Domestic Chaplain and Tutor at Blenheim 
Palace, and that you were lately appointed to your present 
living by the Duke of Marlborough. I acquit you of a con- 
scious desire to please your patron by issuing an electioneer- 
ing pamphlet, but I cannot acquit you of an officious parti- 
sanship which fairly lays you open to such a suspicion. I do 
not doubt that you wrote under a sense of duty, but your 
assurance that you did not write ' from any inclination for 
such polemics ' is too much even for that charity which 
belie veth all things. 

Your arguments respecting the Irish Church are so ably 
refuted in the accompanying letter of Sir G. Young to the 
Eev. A. Headley, that I shall not waste my own time by 
replying to them at length. But, as your reflections on the 
conduct of Mr. Lushington clearly exhibit the prevailing 
spirit of your pamphlet, I will deal briefly with them. The 


electors of this Borough will then be able to judge for them- 
selves what degree of weight attaches to your most confident 
assertions. You allege that Mr. Lushington frankly avows 
hostility, not only to the Church in Ireland, but to the Church 
in England also ; and you proceed to ask ' how his present 
convictions can be reconciled with accepting a Fellowship m 
a Church of England College.' Now, it is not strictly true 
that Mr. Lushington avows hostility to the Church of England. 
He only goes so far as to say, what Dr. Pusey would probably 
endorse — that he has no special love for Establishments, and 
that if the English Establishment ' came to represent the 
religious views of a much smaller proportion of the popula- 
tion,' he would be in favour of severing its connection with 
the State. But let me now put a plain question to you. Are 
you aware that several years ago, and long before his mar- 
riage, Mr. Lushington spontaneously resigned his Fellowship 
at All Souls' College on conscientious grounds ? If you are 
not, you have recklessly made an attack on an University 
contemporary, in every way entitled to your respect, without 
taking pains to inform yourself of a fact destructive to your 
argument and easily ascertained. If you are (which I will 
not readily believe), you have been guilty of an unworthy and 
disingenuous suppression of truth. I leave you to choose 
between the horns of this dilemma, and the public to decide 
how far you can be trusted on questions of historical research, 
when you thus misrepresent circumstances almost within 
your own knowledge. But you do not stop here. You pro- 
ceed to sneer at persons whom you describe as ' accepting 
Fellowships, founded for purposes of study and tuition, at 
Oxford, and living habitually in London or elsewhere.' I 
must infer that, had you been fortunate enough to obtain a 
Fellowship, which is the highest reward of Academical merit, 
you would have scrupled to hold it in the position, for 
instance, of Curate at Woodstock. If so, I do not share that 
scruple, though, in common with most Oxford Liberals, I am 
for reforming the whole system of non-resident Fellowships. 
In the meantime, I may apprise you that the founder of 


Merton College, whose views in the thirteenth century would 
appear to have been more enlarged than yours in the nine- 
teenth, expressly ordained that his Fellows should not be 
confined to the walls of a College, but should go abroad into 
the world. As it is, every College has the right to call into 
residence any FeUow whose services are required, and Mr. 
Lushington (like myself) always took a most active part in 
the government of his College, so long as he remained a 

The narrow view which you take of the Irish Church 
Question does not surprise me, since you premise that it is 
' emphatically an ecclesiastical and a clerical one.' I deny 
this. Matters of theology may be pecuUarly within the 
province of the clergy, though even there an assumption of 
authority on their part is inconsistent with the first principles 
of Protestantism. But the establishment or disestablishment 
of a particular Church by the State, instead of being emphati- 
cally a question for clergymen, is emphatically a question for 
statesmen, or, rather, for the Imperial Legislature. Clergy- 
men, like any other citizens, have doubtless a right to express 
their opinions upon it, but those opinions are very likely to 
be coloured by a contemptuous ignorance of legal principles, 
which has always been characteristic of the clerical mind. 
The vice of which I speak is well illustrated by every para- 
graph of your pamphlet. 

You assert, for instance, as ' a fact,' that the Irish Esta- 
blished Church ' is the ancient Church of the Country,' 
' that its property is in no sense the property of the nation,' 
and that the argument now used against it ' would apply 
with equal force to Mr. Spurgeon's Tabernacle ' or the Duke 
of Bedford's possession of Woburn Abbey. You adduce no 
evidence, and quote no authority, in proof of this assertion, 
which is only true in a sense which is not worth discussion. 
Those who believe in Apostolical Succession may trace, if they 
please, the pedigree of the Irish Episcopate up to St. Patrick, 
and recognise the existing Protestant Establishment as the 
proper representative of the old Catholic Church. For me it 


is enough to know that, whereas that Church embraced the 
whole nation before the Reformation, it then ceased to em- 
brace more than a small part of the nation, thereby forfeiting 
all claim to be treated as a national Church. No wonder 
that you ' cannot pause to explain ' the causes through which 
' the Irish nation unhappily failed to receive the benefit ' of 
that great awakening ' to the same extent as the English.' 
The simple explanation of the fact is, that Queen Elizabeth's 
Ministers, no less blind than yourself to considerations of 
justice, strove to force Protestant truth upon the Irish by 
making them pay for their own conversion ; and the same 
policy has produced the same fruits from that day to this. 
With a disregard for popular rights which is not yet obsolete 
among Conservative statesmen, they took counsel with the 
Bishops alone, relied on ' influence ' for the success of their 
enterprise, dehberately excluded the representatives of the 
inferior clergy from the Irish Parliament which adopted the 
Royal Supremacy, and visited them with penalties for their 
resistance to it. As for the great mass of the people, they 
had no voice in the matter, and never accepted the new 
religion which their rulers had provided for them. All this 
seems to you perfectly right, and you stand aghast at the 
proposal to undo it by an Act of the Imperial Legislature, 
with the consent of a vast majority of the Irish nation. Ac- 
cording to your view, an Irish Parliament carefully packed 
by the Lord Deputy, and representing a mere fraction of the 
population, was competent to establish the State Church ; 
yet the Parliament of the United Kingdom, including repre- 
sentatives from all Ireland, is incompetent to disestabHsh it. 
And then you echo Lord Derby's absurd saying, that ' the 
Church has at any rate as good a title to its property as the 
House of Russell has to Woburn Abbey.' Who disputes that 
either has a valid title in a Court-of-law— a title, that is, 
which is valid against any claimant except the State ? The 
best precedent for the Disendowment of the Irish Church is, 
in fact, to be found in the dissolution of the monasteries, and 
it is those who may hereafter share its revenues whose title 


■will be as good as that of the Duke of Bedford. You may 
call the api^lication of national property to national purposes 
a robbery of the Church. We call its present application a 
robbery of the nation. You wish to see a little more trans- 
ferred from the Bishops to parochial clergymen, or from 
richer to poorer dioceses : ' robbing Peter to pay Paul ! ' We 
wish to have only such of the revenues of the Establishment 
as were originally the gift of the nation redistributed in the 
true sense of the word — I mean, devoted to objects of national 
utility, instead of being appropriated to a rich minority of 
the community, and serving to aggravate the grievances of 
the poor majority. 

Two more fallacies I must point out, inasmuch as the ex- 
posure of them cuts the ground from under all your remarks 
upon the proprietary rights of the Church. You boldly allege 
that ' the property of the Irish Church had its origin in 
special gifts — some from public, some from private sources : 
some before the Eeformation, a considerable number after it.' 
The simple answer to this vague statement is, that of the 
531,000^. that form the annual revenue of the Irish Church, 
864,000Z. is tithe rent-charge, besides the income derived 
from 132,000 acres of glebe land, both of which are purely 
State gifts ; while, of the remainder, I cannot succeed in 
tracing more than 7,000L to private sources. The Churches 
have been built : firstly, by rates levied on Catholics aad 
Protestants alike ; secondly, by Parliamentary grants ; thirdly, 
by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with funds drawn from 
the entire Church Eevenue ; and fourthly, to a small extent, 
by private beneficence. But Mr. Gladstone, as you ought to 
know, never once has proposed to appropriate any portion of 
the revenues of the Irish Church that can be traced to a 
private source. You seem, indeed, to be conscious of this 
historical fallacy, for you seek to cover it with an economical 
fallacy, if possible, more transparent. You describe the tithe 
rent-charge as ' no tax at all, but simply a sum paid by the 
landlord,' and ' as to seven-eighths, by Protestant landlords.' 
I do not care to discuss the question whether tithe is not a 


'tax' just as much as the land-tax, but it is a downright 
absurdity to suppose that it makes any difference whether 
the landlord or tenant is the actual paymaster. Whatever 
be the channel through which the 364,000L is paid, it is a 
fund applicable to the benefit of the whole Irish nation, and 
now reserved for the benefit of one section. You deny that 
' any man, woman, or child is one penny the poorer for the 
Established Church.' I assert that all the Irish Eoman 
Catholics are the poorer by five-eighths of those revenues which 
the Established Church derives from the gift of the nation. 

I will not dwell upon that passage of your letter in which 
you cast off the mask of the divine, facetiously compare my 
opponent to King Log, who did nothing, and affect to ridicule 
' the talk about intimidation.' The endeavour to extenuate 
what you well know to be the curse of this constituency, 
apparently because the guilt of it lies at the door, not of the 
poor, but of the rich and powerful, is but too much in keep- 
ing with the rest of your pamphlet. Let me recommend to 
your notice the last paragraph of Sir George Young's letter, 
in which he points out the real duty of a clergyman at a con- 
tested election. 

There is one point, and one only, upon which you and I 
are entirely agreed. You raise the cry of ' The Church in 
danger ! ' and I heartily admit that you have good reason to 
do so. The Church of England is in danger, and ever will 
be, so long as her champions, blind to the signs of their own 
times, persist in opposing truth and justice in the outraged 
name of religion and piety. She cannot fail to be in danger, 
so long as her advocates disavow her claims as a national 
Church, or as the Church of the poor, by identifying her with 
an anti-national Church which is maintained in the interest 
of a dominant class. She must be in danger, so long as she 
is undermined from within by Eomish doctrines and practices, 
encouraged as they are by some of those very Bishops who 
profess to be dismayed by the aggressions of Rome from 
without. She ought to be in danger, if her parochial clergy 
betray their sacred trust by reserving their censures and 


warnings for the sins of the poor, lest they should offend the 
resident nobleman or squire, instead of crying aloud, like the 
prophets of old, against aristocratic pride, against commer- 
cial fraud, against oppression and corruption in high places. 
I remain. 

Yours faithfully, 

Geoege C. Brodeick. 

Bear Hotel, Woodstock, November 13, 1868. 

NOVEMBER 16, 1868 

Electors of Woodstock, — I stand before you to-day as the 
Liberal candidate for the representation of this Borough, as a 
loyal supporter of our great leader, Mr. Gladstone, and as 
the champion of your independence. Gentlemen, there is a 
time for all things, and a contested election is a time for good 
humour. Though we have had a little rough play in front of 
these hustings, I am happy to observe that, on the whole, 
this good rule has been respected, and that our proceedings 
hitherto have been disgraced by no serious outbreaks of ill- 
feeling. My relation. Colonel Thomas, who proposed Mr. 
Barnett, has been kind enough to give me' some advice from 
a sporting point of view. No one can be more competent 
than Colonel Thomas to give advice in the huntmg-field, and 
I should always be glad to follow his lead across country. 
But politics are altogether a different affair, and there I 
flatter myself that I know the line of country better than he 
does. I have no reason to complain of the way in which 
Mr. Barnett has spoken, on this occasion, of myself. But he 
has presumed to attack more than one of my supporters, and 
I beg to inform him publicly that I am not base enough to 
accept compliments to myself at the expense of my friends. 
I say here, as I said elsewhere, that I am proud of my sup- 
porters, and I utterly repudiate, on their part, the use of the 
smallest undue influence. My friend Mr. Hiorns, to whom 
allusion has been made, has not only put no pressure on his 


tenants, but has not even asked them for their votes. My 
friend Mr. Baugh, instead of having been brought down from 
London by me, was at KidHngton before I was invited to 
stand for Woodstock, and when I first met him I had no 
idea who he was. But as Mr. Barnett has expressed a wish 
to abstain from personaHties — though he has not quite acted 
up to it — I am wiUing to brush aside all matters of this kind, 
and I hope to say nothing which can give him, or any other 
individual, legitimate offence. 

Now, in coming forward to contest this Borough of Wood- 
stock, I cannot but feel that my opponent has some advan- 
tages over me. In the first place, he was in the field a month 
before me, and, to my knowledge, obtained many promises, as 
the first comer, by representing that it was almost certain 
that no other candidate would present himself. Then, again, 
he is not, like myself, a novice in pohtical life ; he has already 
represented Woodstock, or, if not Woodstock, yet somebody, 
and some place, for three years, and ought to be able to give 
you some account of all the measures which he has promoted 
for the good of the people. Mr. Barnett, indeed, complains 
that I have described him as the enemy of the poor. I have 
never so described him in his private capacity, but I have 
often said, and I now repeat it, that he belongs to a party 
which has always resisted, and still resists, measures for the 
benefit of the working classes. But then Mr. Barnett is a 
neighbour, as he is very fond of telling you, while I was a 
stranger to most of you until three months ago. Not that 
I can admit that this gives him any claim to your votes. I 
have read my catechism, and hope that I know my duty to 
my neighbour ; but I was never taught that it is any part of 
your duty to your neighbour to vote for him at a contested 
election. And I cannot help observing that in that parish of 
Wootton, which lies close to Mr. Barnett's home, he does not 
seem to have a very numerous body of supporters. . . . 

On the other hand, I feel that I have some great advan- 
tages over Mr. Barnett— advantages so great that, instead of 
being angry with him at this moment, I actually pity him. 


I pity him because this is the first time that his face has 
dawned on the Woodstock horizon since the last election ; 
and it must be very unpleasant to ask publicly for the votes 
of a constituency which you have treated with so little respect. 
I pity him because he has been compelled to canvass work- 
ing men whom he tried to exclude from the franchise as 
long as he could, and on whom he helped to lay an extra rate 
when he could exclude them no longer. I pity him because 
throughout his canvass he must have seen that he has not 
the hearts of the people, and because he relies for success on 
a kind of influence of which, as an honourable man, he must 
be ashamed, of which I would not avail myself to save my 
election, and which Sir Henry Dashwood, my chairman, 
would rather cut off his right hand than exert. I pity him 
because he will go to the poll with this paper tied round his 
neck — [Mr. Brodrick here opened a paper recording Mr. Bar- 
nett's votes in Parliament] — a paper which shows how entirely 
he has unrepresented your interests and feelings in the House 
of Commons. I can well understand that my observations do 
not please some of our opponents. That is not because they 
are untrue, but, on the contrary, because they are too true. 
Let me tell you an American story which throws light on 
their feelings. A man came home to his wife looking very 
much put out and offended. She asked him what was the 
matter ; when he explained that one of his neighbours had 
been calling him names, and imputing to him aU kinds of 
misdeeds. ' Well, my dear,' she replied, ' what does that 
signify ? He may say it, but he can't prove it.' ' Confound 
the fellow ! ' roared the husband, ' but he has proved it, and 
that's just what I can't bear.' And so it is with our friends 
here on the right ; they writhe under my appeal to facts, 
because there is no answer to it. [Mr. Brodrick then replied 
to Mr. Barnett's defence of the Conservative policy on the 
question of Keform, Economy in Public Expenditure, and the 
Irish Church. He expressed his surprise that Mr. Barnett 
should have referred with self-complacency to our present 
friendly relations with America, remembering, as he must, that 


bis party did all in their power to plunge us into what would 
have been the wickedest and most disastrous war that ever 
afflicted mankind.] Of course (Mr. Brodrick continued) our 
oj^ponents profess entire confidence in their success. That 
is part of their game. Some people don't know when they are 
beaten, and some, it is said, don't even know when they are 
killed. You must have heard of the gentleman who was 
beheaded without being aware of it. So dexterous was the 
executioner, that although the knife passed clean through the 
poor man's neck, his head remained on his shoulders as if 
nothing had happened. ' Why, you've not done your duty,' 
he called out, looking hard at the executioner. ' Shake your 
head, sir,' rejoined the latter ; and so he did, and the head 
rolled off before him into a basket. Perhaps, when Mr. Barnett 
shakes his head about 4 o'clock to-morrow afternoon, he may 
find that it is not so firm in its position as he now supposes. 

As for myself, I can hardly describe better what my course 
in Parlia.ment would have been than by saying that it would 
have been the very reverse of that adopted by Mr. Barnett. 
I should have voted for, and not against, the total abolition of 
Church-rates. I should have voted for, and not against, the 
admission of Dissenters to the Universities and Colleges of 
Oxford and Cambridge. I should not have voted against 
giving the Borough Franchise to the working classes in 18G6, 
or against giving the County Franchise to 141. occui^iers. I 
should not have voted, in 1867, for requiring the payment of 
full rates from all householders, relieving many landlords 
from a just burden, and throwing it upon the cottagers. I 
should not have voted for requiring a longer residence from 
the poorer than from the richer elector. I should not have 
voted for maintaining the Church of a rich minority, at the 
expense of the people, in Ireland. I should not have voted 
for restricting the importation of foreign cattle, and thereby 
raising the price of meat. [Interruption from Mr. Barnett's 
supporters on the platform.] I hear some murmurs from the 
farmers and butchers who stand behind Mr. Barnett ; you 
know what that means, and how far their interests in this 

G G 


matter are the same as yours. I should not have voted for 
keeping up the unjust system of purchase, under which pro- 
motion in the Army depends on wealth, and not on merit or 
length of service. I would not, above all, have voted for 
keeping up the degrading practice of flogging soldiers in time 
of peace — especially when the more humane and enlightened 
members of the Conservative Party joined with the Liberals 
in abolishing it. And, lastly, I should not have voted against 
the Ballot, but, on the contrary, should have given it my 
heartiest support. 

If you send me .to Parliament, I should go thither as a 
member of that great Liberal Party to which this country, 
and especially the working classes, owe all the grand reforms 
that have been carried in the present century — Free Trade, 
Education, and a cheap Press, and that Act of last year which 
has increased this constituency from 300 to l,100^a party 
which alone has any policy or any hope for the future. I 
should go to support, not Mr. DisraeU, whom I regard as a 
mere pohtical Jesuit, distrusted by his own party as much as 
he despises them — but Mr. Gladstone, a true man of the 
people, a man who has the eye to see and the heart to feel 
the wants and interests of his countrymen, and, what is 
more, the courage to do and dare anything in carrying out 
his convictions. I should go to advocate measures which I 
believe to be urgently demanded by public opinion from the 
new Parliament — the Ballot, a broad and unsectarian system 
of national education, promotion by merit in the Army and 
Civil Service, justice to Ireland, a large retrenchment in the 
national expenditure, a further reduction in taxes which press 
most heavily on the working classes, and, generally, all 
measures which can elevate the moral condition and increase 
the happiness of the struggling and toiling masses. But I 
should also go, and I now come forward, to vindicate the 
independence of this Borough. It is vain to conceal, what all 
the world knows, that Woodstock has always been regarded, 
and justly regarded, as a pocket-borough of the Duke of 
Marlborough. I remember hearing of a case in which a 


member had been returned for another of these pocket- 
boroughs by the influence of a great nobleman. He wrote a 
poHte letter to his patron, thanking him for his election, and 
enclosing another for the mayor of the borough. The noble- 
man answered by return of post, acknowledging the letter to 
himself, but stating that as the other was a mere formality, 
he had thrown it behind the fire. I don't know, Mr. Mayor, 
whether anything of that kind has occurred within your 
recollection at Woodstock, but I am quite sure that it might 
very well have occurred. Mr. Barnett, I know, objects very 
strongly to being called a nominee of the Duke, and, in one 
sense, I believe he is right. It is no secret that Mr. Barnett 
is not the candidate whom the Duke would have preferred, 
and there are those present who were parties to an intrigue 
for bringing forward the Marquis of Blandford. However, 
about that time I appeared on the scenes, the Tories said 
that it would not do to divide their strength, and Mr. Napier 
at once joined Mr. Barnett's committee. Henceforth Mr. 
Barnett has been the nominee of the Duke. If any one doubts 
that he is entirely dependent on the Duke's influence, let me 
ask you this plain question : Suppose there were no Liberal 
candidate in the field, and suppose that the Duke were to put 
up his coachman against Mr. Barnett, which would you back — 
Mr. Barnett or the coachman ? Now I think it is high time 
for it to be decided once for all whether it is Blenheim or 
Woodstock that returns a member to Parliament, and I have 
come forward to give you the opportunity of declaring that 
this unconstitutional influence shall exist no longer. 

And now, Electors of Woodstock, I leave this great issue 
in your hands. My part is played ; yours is now to begin. 
I have not spared myself in fighting your battle — for it is 
your battle — and my friends around me have supported me 
with an energy and devotion which nothing but an earnest 
faith in the justice of our cause could have inspired. I have 
everywhere been met with a kind welcome that I can never 
forget ; and let me here say that I rely entirely upon the 
promises which I have received. To me the promise of the 

o o 2 


poor is as the promise of the rich. I do not beheve that men 
who have enlisted under my banner will turn their backs in 
the day of battle, or that Englishmen will sell their birthright 
for a mess of pottage, and submit to be driven like slaves to 
the poll. Small as Woodstock is, no election has attracted 
more attention throughout the country than ours, because all 
England knows how great is the principle at stake. I appeal 
to your reason and consciences alone. If Mr. Barnett's cause 
is your cause, if Mr. Barnett's principles are your principles, 
if you honestly believe that he is the best man to represent, 
not Blenheim, but Woodstock, in Parliament, then vote for 
Mr. Barnett. But if you believe that mine is the cause of 
truth, of justice, of liberty, of progress — the cause, above all, 
of the working classes — if you are resolved to break from off 
your necks a yoke which neither you nor your fathers have 
been able to bear — then, I say, go and record your votes for 
me, like honest and brave men, at the poll ; and may God 
defend the right ! 

JANUARY 28, 1874 

( Very imperfectly reported) 

My Friends, and Electors of Woodstock, — At last the time 
has come to which I have so long looked forward — the time 
when I should again meet you face to face, and address you 
in this hall in the capacity of a Liberal candidate. And now, 
the first question I have to answer is why, during all these 
five years, I have never been in Woodstock. My answer is 
very easy and simple. Woodstock is a small place, and it is 
a place where party feeling runs very high — I should not 
wish it to be otherwise at the time of elections - and I felt 
that my appearance here would not only be a signal for a 
fresh outburst of party spirit, that would not do any good to 
any one, but would be a signal for that influence to be brought 
to bear against which we have to fight to-day as we have 
fought before. The next question I have to answer is, How I 


come to be here now. I am here now in response to an 
assurance which reached me that I might hope on this occa- 
sion, not only to carry those who voted for me on a former 
occasion, but also many of those who could not vote for me 
then, although they voted for me in their hearts, but will, 
under the protection of the Ballot, now have the power of 
voting at the poll as they voted in their hearts before. I 
think it right to tell you that it cost me no mean sacrifice to 
come here, as I did yesterday morning when I knew that I 
was likely to receive the support of the agricultural labourers 
in a body, upon whom I count with great confidence to sup- 
port me as one man. Until I knew this, I confess I felt that 
it would be very little use renewing the old acquaintance, and 
at the moment this assurance reached me I was receiving a 
moat influential deputation from Evesham in Worcestershire ; 
and I shall never forget to the last hour of my life the 
entreaties with which I was importuned on all sides that I 
would not desert them for Woodstock. But I was proof 
against these entreaties, because I was told, and felt, that 
Woodstock had the first claim on my services. The chair- 
man of the meeting that was held at Evesham — and it was 
one of the best meetings I ever saw — got up, and said to the 
people assembled : ' Gentlemen, we must not blame Mr. 
Brodrick ; we must remember that Woodstock has not only 
the first claim upon him, but that a victory at Woodstock is 
more important for the country than at Evesham.' 

The next, and last question, is. What have I come here to 
do ? Well, I have told you that in the very outset of my 
Address; I have come here to vindicate Liberal principles. Mr. 
Godden has spoken, and we have heard a great deal of late, 
about what many call Conservative reaction, and I think that 
Mr. Godden hit the right nail upon the head when he mentioned, 
as one of the causes of that so-called Conservative reaction, 
the tendency of people as they get on in the world, and 
become rich and prosperous, to be very well contented with 
things as they are, and to desire very little change for the 
benefit of others. I take this to be one of the great and main 


causes of the Conservative reaction. When a man has made 
his fortune, and got all that he wants, and particularly if he 
happens to take a country-house, his first ambition is to get 
his wife and daughters into what is called, or what calls 
itself, county society ; and I am sorry to say that in many 
parts of the country — I am not sure that it is not so here — 
the best passport to county society is a certificate of having 
turned Tory. 

If this were the time and place to do so, I could mention 
other causes ; but of one thing I am sure— that if this Conser- 
vative reaction exists' to a great extent among the rich and 
noble, it has not yet reached the homes of the poor, and 
therefore I rely with confidence, not only on the Liberal prin- 
ciples manifested in this Borough five years ago, but also on 
the development of these principles among that class which 
holds the fate of this election in their hands. If I am asked 
what Liberal principles are, I would refer the inquirer, as I 
do in my Address — I am anxious not to repeat anything I 
have said there — to that wonderful series of great measures 
passed in the last five years. I think that these are the most 
extraordinary pieces of legislative work that have been done 
in our Parliamentary history. As I am speaking frankly, I 
will confess to you that I have been rather disappointed at 
some things not being done which I did hope would have 
been done by this ParHament. There have undoubtedly been 
shortcomings, particularly in the direction of legislation for 
the benefit of the people at large ; but they are shortcomings 
which are very easily to be explained, because during the 
first two or three years of this Parliament the attention of 
the House of Commons was almost entirely engi-ossed with 
Irish affairs. Well, no doubt some mistakes were made, and 
a good many people's toes trodden upon, and many interests 
offended ; but I maintain that it is the highest virtue and the 
crowning merit of Mr. Gladstone's Administration, that it 
has deliberately preferred national interests to the interests 
of any individuals, or class, or section whatever ; while it will 
be a lasting disgrace to the Opposition, as led by Mr. Disraeli, 


that it has sought every opportunity of combining with any 
little discontented class, whether it were the purchase-officers, 
or the Irish clergy, or the publicans — that it has always been 
ready to enter into league with any class that happened to be 
discontented, simply because its interests appeared to conflict 
with the interests of the public at large. 

If you look at Mr. Disraeli's Address, which I will not 
read to you, though it is a clever document, you will find that 
one of the main charges against this Government is, that it 
has meddled a great deal too much with Home affairs, and 
too little with Foreign affairs. This is a very strange charge 
to make against a person — a charge that he had minded his 
home business too much. Mr Disraeli says that he wished 
there had been a little more energy in Foreign Policy, and a 
little less energy in Home Policy. Well, I can quite under- 
stand his being of that opinion. No one who has read 
history can be ignorant of the fact that times of war, in 
which there has been a spirited foreign policy, have been 
dark and depressing times for the cause of the people. Mr. 
Disraeli is very fond of a spirited Foreign policy, because he 
knows well that such a policy means a feeble and reactionary 
Home policy. All the great things that have been done for 
domestic improvement, for progress, and for civil and religious 
liberty, have been done in quiet times ; and you may depend 
upon it, we should never have got through the work of the 
last five years if we had done as Mr. Disraeli would have 
wished us, and been poking our fingers into every foreign pie, 
and quarrelled with Germany or taken the part of France, 
and, as he evidently wishes, had not settled the dispute with 
America. I look upon the settlement of the dispute between 
this England and that England on the other side of the 
Atlantic as a great and magnificent achievement on the part 
of the present Government. I speak from positive knowledge 
respecting this matter, having visited that country last autumn. 
I should like to read you a very short paragraph in Mr. Lowe's 
Address. It is as follows : — ' Mr. Disraeli tells us that he 
does not think the condition of the United Kingdom is im- 


proved by incesfiant and harassing legislation. This means 
that it is best not to legislate at all, and, if you do legislate, 
to take care to offend no one. Compare the state of England 
with her state forty years ago. To what do we owe the 
change ? To laws which harassed the owners of boroughs, 
t'le corrupt corporations, the protected trades and industries, 
and the Universities — in short, all persons and institutions 
which held privileges adverse to the general welfare.' Well, 
Gentlemen, Mr. Disraeli goes on to speak of the income tax. 
Mr. Gladstone proposes to abolish the income tax, and Mr. 
Disraeli says he would have done exactly the same. To this 
Mr. Lowe gives a good reply, and says that it is a great pity 
that he did not tell us that before, and adds, that he did not 
wonder at his being very much upset about the income tax, 
because this tax was to enable the country to carry out the 
policy of Free Trade, which he bitterly resisted. I wonder at 
Mr. Disraeli alluding to finance, for finance is not a strong 
point of the Tory policy. I believe I am correct in saying that 
there has been scarcely a single year of Tory Administration, 
within living memory, that has failed to show an increase in 
the national expenditure, or a deficit in the revenue. But 
during the last five years no less than 10,000,000/. has been 
taken off in the shape of taxes, and the National Debt has 
been reduced by 25,000,000L And this is in addition to the 
cost of the purchase of the telegraphs, and the money paid to 
America in respect of the ' Alabama ' claims. Of course, we 
must not forget the Ashantee War ; but the cost of that war 
will not be so great as was anticipated. Surely this is a 
happy account for Mr. Gladstone to render. 

Mr. Disraeli alludes to the difference of opinion in the 
Liberal Party. Well, Gentlemen, no doubt there is a differ- 
ence of opinion among the Liberal Party, and I will tell you 
why. There are many ways of going on, and only one way 
of standing still. If you go on, there is always a difference 
of opinion as to the road you shall choose ; but if you want to 
stand still, there is no difficulty in deciding the way in which 
that shall be done. Then he says that the Liberal Pai-ty are 


attacking the institutions of the country. Well, I don't know 
what he means by that ; but if he means the Monarchy, if he 
means that there is a considerable party, or a party at all, 
among the Liberals, who are hostile to the Monarchy, or dis- 
loyal to the Constitution, I believe it to be an utter and com- 
plete delusion. On the contrary, I do not scruple to say that 
I have heard more disrespectful language used about Her 
Majesty in high and aristocratic circles than I have ever 
heard or read in the proceedings of any public meeting. Mr. 
DisraeH must then needs go on to speak of the House of 
Lords ; but I am very much afraid that he means to imply 
that any idea of reforming that House is an attack on the 
institutions of the country. I think that it would have 
been far more prudent on his part to have been silent respect- 
ing the House of Lords, because I must say that the conduct 
of that House for the last forty years, and especially during 
the last five years, has sorely and severely tried the patience 
of the people. The House of Lords exists, they tell us, for 
the purpose of revising hasty legislation that might have been 
passed by the House of Commons — and a very useful purj^ose 
that is — but I entirely deny that it fulfils that purpose. I am 
unable to mention a single hasty measure, such as we should 
all regret, that has been stopped by that House, but, on the 
contrary, the few such measures that have been passed have 
gone through that House by acclamation. But what that body 
has stopped have been the salutary measures upon which the 
House of Commons have resolved, and which are destined to 
become laws, and which the House of Lords will pass, sooner 
or later, but upon which they waste a great amount of public 
time in their vain attempts at obstruction. I don't wonder 
that Mr. Disraeli is silent about the future, and that for the 
best of all reasons ; as is also my noble opponent. Lord 
Eandoli^h Churchill, whose Address I have had the pleasure 
of reading — because there is no future whatever to Tory policy. 
I defy you to extract from either of those Addresses, or from 
any of the Tory Addresses issued throughout the country, a 
suigle indication of what Mr. Disraeli would really do if he 


got into power. I think it would be possible to sum up in a 
single sentence the real essence of Tory policy, and that is 
the very reason why I will for ever oppose and resist it. I 
believe that Tory policy means nothing more nor less than 
Government by the landed aristocracy, aided more or less by 
the Tory section of the country clergy. 

I have said enough, perhaps, about Liberal principles and 
the Tory Addresses ; but I must not forget that I have not 
only to vindicate Liberal principles, but also, as I have said 
in my Address, to vindicate the independence of this Borough. 
That is a topic about which Mr. Godden has said something. 
I have told Lord Eandolph Churchill privately, and I will 
now say it publicly, that I hope this contest will be conducted 
in an amicable manner, and without needless personahty, 
and to that Lord Eandolph replied in a spu-it which did 
honour to him. Having said that, you will easily understand 
why I do not wish to dwell too strongly on this particular 
topic — the independence of this Borough ; but at the same 
time I was rather amused on Saturday, just after the an- 
nouncement of the Dissolution, by meeting a man in the 
streets of London, whom I did not know, but who had a very 
rough coat on. He said to me : ' I hope you are going to be 
member for Blenheim, sir.' I thought it a very odd mis- 
take to make, but I am afraid it was a mistake that others 
have made. I may say that I should feel myself totally unfit 
to be member for Blenheim. All that I aspire to, is to be 
member for Woodstock, and that, with your assistance, I hope 
to be before I am much older. I will remind you of what Mr. 
Godden has said — that our position is altered by the introduc- 
tion of the Ballot. I am not in favour of the practice, nor 
would any one in this room be, of promising one thing and 
doing another, but now it is possible for a man to give his 
vote exactly as he pleases. He has nothing to do but to 
decline to promise, if he chooses to do so, and he can go and 
give his vote as his conscience dictates at the polling-booth. 

There is another cause which I also came to vindicate, and 
that is — I say it openly and in a straightforward manner — 


the cause of the agricultural labourers. Gentlemen, let us 
understand each other on this point. I am not an Unionist ; 
I am not a labouring man, and don't live in the country, and 
have not thought it my duty to join the Agricultural Labourers' 
Union. I have seen many things that have been done, said, 
and written, in the name of the Union, which I cannot approve 
of, but, on the contrary, I somewhat deplore as damaging the 
good cause. If I were asked to take part in an Union meeting, 
I must confess I should have some hesitation in doing so, and 
perhai^s the remarks that I make will come somewhat flat 
and tame compared with those you have been accustomed to 
hearing of late. Having, however, said this much, I wish to 
add that I have a true and hearty sympathy with the object 
which the Agricultural Labourers' Union has in view, and I 
entirely agi'ee with the generous words I have quoted in my 
Address from that of Mr. Gladstone, as well as the words in 
the same sense uttered by my friend. Sir W. Harcourt, at 
Oxford. I believe that movement to be one of the most 
beneficial of our age. It is a movement which could never 
be brought about by legislation ; it is a movement which has 
been the creation of a man sprung from the ranks of the 
people ; it is both just and righteous in itself, and likely to 
conduce, as Mr. Gladstone says, to the stability of the Throne 
and all the institutions worth preserving. Mr. Gladstone 
says : ' Of all the changes marking the present day, there is 
none which I view with more heartfelt satisfaction than the 
progressive rise of wages in the agricultural districts. I view 
this rise as the natural and proper, though long-delayed, 
result of economic laws ; as the removal of something like a 
national discredit ; as carrying with it a gi-eat addition to the 
stock, never too abundant, of human haijpiness ; and as a 
new guarantee for the stability of the Throne and institutions 
of the country.' We shall perhaps be told that Mr. Gladstone 
is a very impulsive man, and that you don't know how far 
his feelings will carry him. This reminds me very forcibly 
of the remark of President Lincoln about Mr. Grant, who is 
now President of the United States, and who was one of the 


most successful of the United States generals. When Grant 
was carrying all before him, President Lincoln was told that 
it was very distressing that General Grant was rather addicted 
to strong liquors ; to which Lincoln replied : ' I wish you 
could tell me of which particular liquor he is fondest, because 
I should like to send a large cask of it to every one of my 
generals.' Well, that is just what I feel about Mr. Gladstone's 
impulsiveness. He is impulsive, because his heart beats in 
unison with the hearts of his countrymen ; his mind is open 
to new and noble impulses, because he has a real faith in the 
sound feeling, not only of the higher or the lower classes, but 
of all the people of this country, every class of which he 
recognises as his own flesh and blood. 

I have said. Gentlemen, that what has been done on be- 
half of the agricultural labourer could not have been done by 
any legislation or Parliament whatever. I don't believe any 
reasonable man thinks that it is in the power of Parliament 
to raise wages 2s. a week ; but in former times very unjust laws 
were passed, exjiressly intended to reduce the rate of wages, 
but these laws entirely failed in their effect, as must any laws 
of a similar nature. I have said in my Address that some- 
thing may be done to improve the condition of the labourers 
by legislative enactment, and that since ' unwise legislation 
has concurred with economic laws in depressing the condition 
of agricultural labourers, wise legislation may properly concur 
with economic laws in raising that condition.' Gentlemen, it 
would be impossible for me on the present occasion, and 
within the time allotted for me, to specify all the modes by 
which I believe that improvement may be effected or aided. 
I have mentioned several of them in my Address, and every 
thing I have there said has been carefully weighed. The first 
thing to be done to aid the agricultural labourers' movement 
is to get Household Suffrage in the counties, for then the 
labourer would in a great measure be able to help himself. 
That is a reaUy sound and salutary way of bringing about 
the results they desire, if they would only send men to Par- 
liament whom they could trust, and let them judge as far as 


possible what would be the best and wisest means of arriving 
at the object they desire. 

That is exactly the position which I venture , to claim for 
myself. The truth is, this district, and even the very Borough 
of which most of you are electors, is really a slice of the 
county with Household Suffrage. We, in this Borough, are 
exactly in that position which Mr. Arch claims for the 
counties, and I wish he was here to-night. He knows me 
well, and the last time I met^him was in Canada. I now ask 
you to place me in that position by which I may further the 
end you have in view, and undoubtedly the country will look 
with interest for the decision of this constituency at the ap- 
proaching election, and see what man you return to Parlia- 
ment. I therefore ask you to give me your confideijce. I 
don't claim for myself all that the Chairman has said of me. 
I claim not the power of instructing you, and I should be 
sorry to claim the right of leading you, without the aid of 
much wiser persons than myself. But I do claim to be inde- 
pendent. I am not a labourer, farmer, or landlord. I am 
simply a man who, having had certain advantages of educa- 
tion, have earnestly devoted myself to the study of politics, 
and I hope, if you send me to Parliament, I shall go there 
with an impartial and unbiassed mind, without the slightest 
desire of promoting any personal or professional objects. I 
have no profession except politics, and it would be my highest 
ambition to feel that, when I should leave Parliament, I had 
done something to better the condition of the people. It is 
upon these grounds that I venture to ask for your kind and 
unanimous support at the approaching election. Let me 
earnestly entreat of you to study union, and stick together. 
Everyone should feel and act as if the Liberal and Agricultural 
Labourers' causes depended upon the contest at Woodstock. 
We don't want a long pull this time, because there is very httle 
time left us ; but we want ' a strong pull, and a pull all to- 
gether,' and if we have this, depend upon it next Tuesday the 
victory will be ours, and no victory throughout the country 
will be more heartily welcomed by all thorough Liberals and 


generous minds than that which may wrest and rescue this 
Borough from the influence — I will not speak disrespectfullj 
— to which it has hitherto been subject, and vindicate once and 
for all the Liberal Cause in the Borough of Woodstock. 


The Hon. G. C. Brodkick said he felt it a high honour to 
have been selected to return thanks for the Liberal Party 
before that great audience. He stood before them that even- 
ing as a stranger and as an unknown man in Portsmouth ; 
and as he looked around him, he was afraid he saw very few, 
if any, faces that were familiar to him. He did not possess 
the advantage enjoyed by his friend Mr. Keed, of being a 
member of Parliament, and he was only too well aware that 
he had not the special claims to their attention which Mr. 
Eeed derived from his connection with this Borough ; but, as 
their Chairman had reminded them, he was one who had 
fought and suffered for the Liberal cause. He had strong 
faith in Liberal principles, and was glad to say that he was 
in no way under the influence of what had been termed the 
' Conservative reaction ' ; and speaking to men whom he 
believed to have strong faith in Liberal principles, and who 
were willing to make sacrifices for the purpose of upholding 
those principles, he felt that, although unknown to them, he 
was not speaking among strangers, but rather among friends. 
Now, he saw in one of the papers published in Portsmouth a 
notice which would lead them to suppose that he was going 
to say something that evening on the subject of Education. 
He begged them to dismiss any such supposition from their 
minds. It was true he might have to allude, in the course of 
his observations, to education ; but the text he had chosen that 
night was ' Liberal Opinion on the Basis of Distinctive Liberal 
Principles.' That was his text ; and, unlike some preachers, 
he should endeavour to stick to it as closely as possible. 

' Abridged Eeport from the Hampshire Telegraph. 


With reference to distinctive Liberal principles, the first 
thing he desired to impress upon those present, or, rather, he 
should say, to remind them of, was the fact that it was a dis- 
tinctive feature of Liberalism to have principles at all. Not 
very long ago a witness was giving evidence at an election 
inquiry — he believed it was at Taunton — when the Judge put 
the question to him, ' Pray, sir, may I ask you what are your 
political opinions ? ' To which the man replied, ' Well, my 
lord, I do not know much about politics. I am no great 
politician. I have no polities. I am a Conservative.' Now, 
he did not believe that it was possible for the witness to have 
given a better definition of Conservatism than that. He 
understood that last week the Conservatives of Portsmouth 
had what they termed a banquet in that very hall. He was 
not invited to it, and he very much doubted whether any of 
those present were. However, he had read a report of the 
proceedings ; and he naturally looked through the various 
speeches to see if he could discover throughout either of them 
any trace of Conservative principle. What did he find 7 
Why, he found that one gentleman compared Mr. Reed to a 
pot of HoUoway's Ointment. That was certainly not a prin- 
ciple. Then he found that another gentleman said he should 
like to punch Mr. Gladstone in the ribs. That was not a 
principle, and he should certainly advise the gentleman 
who gave utterance to that remark never to try to gratify hia 
desire. Then, again, he observed that Mr. Lowther, who had 
the reputation of always being able to make a good rollicking 
after-dinner speech, actually had the courage to praise Eussia, 
not because she had vindicated the cause of the Christians 
in Turkey, but because she kept the Liberals in good order 
throughout Europe. That was one of the most daring asser- 
tions he had heard for a long time ; and he was afraid it 
would not be endorsed by many. When the Conservatives 
talked of principles — and it was a well-known fact that they 
often borrowed Liberal principles to talk of — there was no 
doubt that, while the voice was Jacob's, the hands were the 
hands of Esau. When the Conservatives talked of principles. 


he was forcibly reminded of something that President Lincoln 
once said of General McClellan, who was so unsuccessful at 
the beginning of the American War. Now, the General was a 
man who was continually arranging schemes which, unfortu- 
nately, ended in nothing, and the President said on one 
occasion : ' That fellow is always talking of his plans ; but I 
will be hanged if I believe that he has any jilans at all.' 
That was exactly what he believed of Conservatives ; but yet 
he was forced to admit that they had one principle, and that 
was. Government by the landed aristocracy. He maintained 
strongly that that was the one and only principle by which 
Conservatives would really be willing to stand. Let them 
just look for a moment at the composition of the present 
Government, or, perhaps, he ought to say, of the present 
Cabinet. What would they find ? Why, that there was not 
a single member of that Cabinet, except Mr. Gathorne Hardy, 
who re]3resented Oxford University, who was not either a 
noble lord or a member for a county. There was not a single 
representative of a borough among them. If they looked at 
their measures, to which the Chairman had so ably referred, 
including one of the most creditable to them — namely, the 
Artisans and Labourers' Dwellings Act — they would not, if 
they looked through them from first to last, find one that 
either touched the interests or in any way affected the preju- 
dices of the landed aristocracy. He was the very last man 
to set class against class. On the contrary, he was one of 
those who admired the landed aristocracy as a class. He 
believed that if any other privileged class throughout all the 
world had had equal power, such power would have been far 
more unscrupulously exercised than it had been exercised by 
the landed aristocracy. He would even go further than that, 
and say that, if he were to be governed by one particular 
class, and not by the nation, he would most certainly rather 
be governed by that class. But still, he maintained that 
class government, such as the Conservatives believed in, was 
not national government, and that class government was 
utterly and absolutely inconsistent with Liberal principles. 


What were Liberal principles ? It would be perfectly im- 
possible for him that evening to do more than touch in the 
most summary way on some of the more distinctive of those 
principles ; and, givmg them a few outlines, he would leave 
his audience to fill up the details for themselves. Some of 
the illustrations he should have placed before them had 
already been suggested by their Chairman, and he would 
avoid, if possible, going over the same ground again. Liberals 
were often challenged as to what their principles really were. 
First and foremost, then. Progress was a Liberal principle. 
When he was asked, as he sometimes was, whether he were 
an Advanced Liberal, he invariably said, ' No.' The fact was, 
he was not an Advanced Liberal, but an Advancing Liberal ; 
and if he were not an advancing Liberal, he could not be a 
Liberal at all. Why, the whole of their constitutional history 
was a history of progressive changes and progressive reforms, 
made and carried out by the Liberal Party for the time being, 
under whatever name, and against the strongest and most 
violent opposition on the part of the Tory Party for the time 
being, under whatever name. All this was not mere accident ; 
but, on the contrary, it arose from a most profound and 
serious difference between the Liberal and the Tory point of 
view. The Liberal had a faith in human nature, and es- 
pecially in the good sense of his own countrymen, and in 
their capacity for self-government, which gave him what 
Mr. Gladstone had called confidence in the people, such as no 
Tory ever could possess. And, what was more, the Liberal 
had a faith in the future, which no Tory ever had possessed, 
or ever could possess. The Liberal was a man of progi-ess, 
and entirely unlike the Tory. He did not carry his eyes in the 
back of his head, but looked forward with great calmness and 
confidence to the future, believing, with the poet, that what 
men had done was but an earnest of what they yet might do, 
fully convinced that a good time was indeed coming, though 
it may be far distant, and that a happier future was designed 
in the counsels of Providence for the toiling and suffering 
masses of mankind. 



Need he tell his hearers that evening that Freedom was a 
Liberal principle ? Surely not ; for it was well known that 
freedom was the very life-blood of Liberalism. Their Chair- 
man had already reminded them of some of the ways in 
which this Liberal principle had been enforced in times past. 
There was freedom of the Press — a freedom which was only 
won after a most desperate struggle, at the peril of both life 
and limb, by Liberals a few generations ago. But it was 
personal freedom for which Liberals had always fought 
most strenuously. He was not then speaking of the freedom 
secured under the, Habeas Corpus Act, but personal freedom 
to British subjects throughout the British Empire. He boldly 
asserted that personal freedom was never won until the great 
Eeform Bill had been carried by the efforts of their ancestors, 
and entirely by the united efforts of the Liberal Party. The 
Abolition of Slavery, it was hardly necessary to remark, 
received the violent opposition of the Tory Party, allied with 
the "West India interest. Freedom of worship and freedom 
of election to municipal offices, were, in the same way, advo- 
cated and secured by the Liberals, against the resistance of 
the Tories, from a Conservative Minister — the gi-eat Duke of 
Wellington himself — downwards. These liberties were not 
secured until the struggle had been prolonged for generations. 
As for the freedom of trade, most of those present would 
remember how that was won by the Liberal Party, who at 
last succeeded, chiefly through the exertions of one man, the 
late Mr. Cobden ; and how that statesman ultimately succeeded 
in converting Sir Kobert Peel. He would remind them that 
Sir Eobert Peel paid the penalty of that conversion, not 
merely by exclusion from office, but by the lifelong and im- 
placable hatred of the Tory Party. Then, again, freedom of 
labour was never secured until the other day, when the 
iniquitous Combmation Laws were broken down by an Act 
passed by the late Government. Freedom of voting, too, was 
never secured until the Ballot Act was passed, against the 
united opposition of the Conservative Party, who relied on 
what they called ' influence,' but which he called corruption 


and intimidation. Then, as to freedom of education, that, as 
their Chairman had reminded them, was first guaranteed by- 
Mr. Forster's Education Act ; for until then there was no 
such thing as freedom of education, seeing that it could not 
exist so long as all creeds were not placed on equal terms in 
schools largely supported by the nation. It was the Liberals, 
again, who secured freedom of education in the Universities 
by sweeping away religious tests. It was not possible to 
avoid noticing the abolition of that which could only be de- 
scribed as a tax upon knowledge. He alluded to the heavy 
stamp duties upon newspapers, which prevented the poor 
man from acquiring information ; and it must be remembered 
that such abolition was the work of the Liberal Party. He 
was much amused, some time ago, by the saying of a Tory 
gentleman who was a member of the House of Commons. 
That gentleman was listening to Lord Beaconsfield, then 
Mr. DisraeU, who was moving one of his Budgets, he then 
being the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This Tory gentleman 
waited until Mr. Disraeli had described all the taxes he 
proposed to take off — and they were not very numerous —  
when he was overheard to say : ' I hope to God he is going 
to lay on a thundering tax upon knowledge ! ' — evidently 
thinking that such a tax would never reach himself. 

There was another principle which was also purely Liberal ; 
and that was. Equality. He was aware that the word ' equality,' 
used in relation to politics, had a somewhat democratic sound, 
and he did not know that he should have ventured to have 
mentioned it a week ago in that room. But he must say 
that the word Democracy did not alarm him ; and he trusted 
that it would not alarm those present. Three years ago he 
attended a meeting of the Banbury Liberal Association, and 
was pleased at the manner in which its affairs were conducted. 
They put forward as their main object a purpose so excellent 
and so admirably worded that he would recommend it strongly 
to the consideration of the Liberal Association of Portsmouth. 
The object he alluded to was defined to be ' Liberal legisla- 
tion tending towards perfect equality among all classes, in 

H n 2 


ajl relations of public life, whether civil or religious.' He 
maintained that all true Liberals were fully impressed with 
the importance of that jDrinciple of Equality ; and that that 
was one of the reasons why they were so hearty in their 
support of everything tending to help forward the cause of 
education. They believed that education was the safest and 
best of all levellers. That, too, was one reason why, or, rather, 
he should say, the main reason why the Liberal Party so 
heartily supported the abolition of purchase in the Army ; 
and that was the reason why they promoted and supported 
competitive examinations and promotion by merit in all 
branches of the Public Service. He remembered at the time 
of the Crimean War an amusing story went about to the effect 
that some old-fashioned general — for the fact must not be 
concealed that there were old-fashioned generals as well as 
admirals — had said, on hearing of the introduction of the prin- 
ciple of promotion by merit : ' Good heavens ! If they intro- 
duce this principle of promotion by merit, all my officers will 
be wanting to distinguish themselves.' Why, that was exactly 
what the Liberals wanted to see, not only at Alma and 
Inkermann, but in all the relations of public life, civil and 
religious — to use again some of the words defining the object 
of the Banbury Liberal Association. They desired that pro- 
motion should follow upon these acts of distinctipn, and not upon 
any privileges of mere birth or wealth, or anything of that kind. 
Another Liberal principle was one which was, perhaps, 
not quite so easy to state, but he would call it, Eespect for 
Human Nature, as such. Here he was afraid he might trench 
somewhat upon the ground which Mr. Eeed was expected to 
occupy. However that might be, he felt bound to maintain 
that it was essentially a Liberal princij^le to respect human 
nature, as such, not merely because Christianity taught them 
the value of human souls, but also because experience taught 
them that all races, and all classes, and all types of mankind 
were capable of almost infinite elevation. And he would say, 
that it was by virtue of that principle that Liberals abolished 
the penalty of death for, he was afraid to say how many 


hundred, comparatively trifling offences. Liberals felt that 
even criminals and outcasts from society were worthy of some 
resi^ect and consideration. And it was by virtue of that feel- 
ing that they did away with the lash and the branding-iron, 
and by virtue of the same principle that they had introduced 
humanity, as far as possible, into our relations with the 
savage nations, and forbearance into our relations with sub- 
ject-populations. It was the same principle which led all 
Liberals sternly to condemn the atrocities practised under 
the name of martial law in Jamaica. He verily believed- that 
it was not a hatred of Turkey or a love of Eussia which 
stirred up this country against the Bulgarian Massacres ; but 
that it was the principle of respect for human nature, as such, 
which all true Liberals held. He was very glad to read the 
assurance of Mr. Lowther that not a sohtary button on one 
of their blue jackets, or a single hair of one of their gallant 
soldiers, would be placed in jeopardy for any matter arising 
out of the internal administration of the Turkish Empire. 
He thought, however, that it was rather an odd thing for a 
man who belonged to a Government which boasted of its 
' spirited ' foreign policy to say. He thought it a great pity that 
Mr. Lowther or his leaders had not said that until the nation 
had taken the conduct of Eastern affairs into its own hands. 

He would mention one other Liberal principle — viz., the 
Supremacy of all National Interests over all Particular Inte- 
rests, whether they were personal interests, or class interests, or 
professional interests, or sectional interests — interests of any 
kind whatever. He knew that that was a somewhat delicate 
topic to handle in a place like Portsmouth ; but he had not 
come here to conceal opinions, but, on the contrary, to express 
what he felt. And he could speak with some freedom, be- 
cause he could truly say that, as far as he understood the 
matter, he had never been in favour of that reduction in the 
Dockyard establishment which he supposed had been so un- 
popular in this town. He was one of those men who would 
always bake his bread and brew his beer at home, and have 
a family dairy ; and if he would do that, it would be seen that 


he would naturally be in favour of building our ships at home, 
at our own national establishments. He was, as a matter of 
fact, opposed to the principle (whether rightly or wrongly, he 
did not know) of having our warships mainly built by contract 
at private yards. Speaking generally, however, instead of 
the course taken by Mr. Gladstone's Government in carrying 
certain unpopular measures being a reproach, he considered 
the course one which entitled them to much credit, showing, 
as it did, that the national interests were held to be far above 
all other interests — whether the interests of the lawyers, of 
the clergy, of the landlords, or of the people interested in 
educational endowments. To put the matter shortly, Mr. 
Gladstone and his Administration set the interests of the 
nation wholly above the interests of all classes of individuals. 
It was well known that the Conservative Government had 
traded upon the opposite principle. When a Conservative 
Government came into office, an impression seemed to spread, 
from the admiral and general down to the humblest seaman 
and private soldier or marine, and from the heads of depart- 
ments down to the humblest clerk or messenger, that their 
private interests would be protected, and it would almost 
seem that they supposed that England no longer expected 
that every man would do his duty, but only hoiked that he 
might do so. For some time that impression seemed to pre- 
vail, and no harm was done ; but afterwards this state of 
things created mischief. The fruits of the good seeds sown 
by the previous Administration were soon reaped ; and the 
savings which had been made by a judicious and complete 
system of economy were soon expended ; while the classes of 
people to whom he had alluded began to get disappointed, as 
well they might, finding that the promises made to them had 
not been performed. Then the nation, roused at last from 
its fit of indolent inaction, discovered that a vigilant regard to 
the national interests was, after all, of paramount importance. 
He would say no more on Liberal principles. Many, 
perhaps, would say that he had been telling the old story, 
and that it was all very fine ; but the Liberals were so weak 


and divided that they could do very little at present, and had 
very little chance of being again united. Was that so ? 
They might not have been able to do much good — no Oppo- 
sition could do much good ; but it was perfectly clear that 
they had prevented a good deal of harm being done. He 
would mention a few instances in which the Liberal Party 
had effectively intervened to prevent great mischiefs being 
done. The first was, when the Liberal Party modified the 
provisions of that Bill whereby Mr. Cross thought to pro- 
pitiate the licensed victuallers ; and, while mentioning this 
subject, he might perhaps say that he conscientiously believed 
that these concessions to publicans were just as contrary to 
the interests of the publicans themselves as they were to the 
interests of the public at large. Then, again, the Liberal 
Party interfered to prevent mischief being done by the Tories 
in the case of the Endowed Schools Bill, introduced in 1874 
by Lord Sandon, the effect of which Bill would have been to 
have tied up for an indefinite time many of the middle-class 
endowments of this country to the Church of England alone. 
In that case the Liberals were entirely successful. The 
Liberal Party had, too, prevented the Government from 
stifling the agitation so righteously got up by Mr. Plimsoll, 
The Liberals on that occasion secured, at all events, a partial 
measure of shipping-reform. Then, with regard to the issue 
of the Slave Circular, the Liberal Party resisted the Govern- 
ment in their attempt at reviving, indirectly, that system of 
slavery which it was the pride of the last generation to boast 
that they had for ever abolished. They all remembered, too, 
the Eoyal Titles Bill. It was just possible that too much 
was made of the matter on both sides ; but, however that 
might be, it was clear that if the Liberal Party did not succeed 
in getting rid of the Bill altogether, they reserved it for use, 
as his fi'iend Lord Eosebery had wittily said, as an external 
application only. The title of Empress could not be applied 
in England, or Ireland, or Scotland, and that was certainly 
something gained. Again, the Liberal Party had intervened 
in the Eastern Question ; and most certainly (though he did 


not wish to do any injustice to the Government, and though 
he believed Lord Derby was a man of peace) he was of opinion 
that, unless his Lordship had been supported and urged 
forward by the Liberal Party, he might, against his own 
judgment, have committed this country to the maintenance 
of the Turkish Empire. 

Let them now look for a moment to the future; and in 
directing their attention to this point he would (although 
not a cricketing man himself) refer them to something which 
took place in connection with that national game about three 
years ago. At the  time he mentioned, there was a panic 
among cricketers lest the art of batting should become so 
perfect that the adepts in bowling could not get the batsman 
out ; and the question was, whether it would not be desirable 
to alter the rules of batting in order to meet the case. While 
the panic existed, a very sensible letter appeared in print from 
Mr. Lillywhite, who suggested that one way of getting rid of 
the difficulty would be to improve the bowling. Now that was 
exactly the principle which he (Mr. Brodrick) would apply to 
their Parliamentary tactics ; only he thought there should be 
more frequent changes of bowling. He reposed great confidence 
in the true patriotism and solid good sense and sound Liberal 
principles of the Marquis of Hartington, and he was quite 
sure there was no man who would more desire than he would 
to afford everybody the opportunity for fully and openly ex- 
pressing his opinions. He thought the great superiority in 
debate of the Liberal Party was now beginning to tell o